House Intros a Bill to Penalize App Stores Distributing TikTok

The House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would make it illegal in the U.S. to distribute TikTok under its current ownership. The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act “prevents app store availability or web hosting services in the U.S. for ByteDance-controlled applications, including TikTok, unless the application severs ties to entities like ByteDance that are subject to the control of a foreign adversary,” according to a sponsor statement. Violators would be subject to a penalty of $5,000 for every U.S. user that “accessed, maintained or updated” any “foreign adversary controlled applications” from its platform.

The bill defines foreign adversaries as “a country specified in section 4872(d)(2) of title 10, United States Code,” which lists the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Verge says the bill “also creates a process for the president to designate other social media companies from foreign adversary countries … as subject to the bill — meaning apps owned by designated companies that are distributed in the U.S. would need to sever ties” to continue operating here.

“This is my message to TikTok: break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” said Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin), chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, in a statement.

“America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States. TikTok’s time in the United States is over unless it ends its relationship with CCP-controlled ByteDance,” continued Gallagher, who introduced the measure along with ranking member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois). The bill is signed by 19 bipartisan House members.

TikTok said if the legislation succeeds it “will trample the First Amendment rights of 170 million Americans and deprive 5 million small businesses of a platform they rely on to grow and create jobs.”

The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act is “the first big legislative push in Congress to act on national security concerns posed by TikTok’s ownership since the Senate introduced the RESTRICT Act” in March 2023, notes The Verge.

It is “the latest in a long line of attempts” by U.S. lawmakers and other officials to excise TikTok, according to Engadget, which lists an unsuccessful 2020 attempt by then-President Donald Trump to force a sale, and pressure by the Biden Administration for ByteDance to divest.

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