House Passes Bill That Could Remove TikTok from App Stores

The House of Representatives voted 352 to 65 today to pass a bill that could lead to a nationwide ban of popular video-sharing app TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance and currently used by 170 million Americans. The bill, introduced out of concern for national security, would prohibit TikTok from app stores in the U.S. unless it is spun off from ByteDance. It is not clear how the Senate will respond to the proposed legislation, which advanced unanimously by the House Energy and Commerce Committee (50-0), and President Biden indicated he would sign. Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry has called the measure an “act of bullying.”

If enacted, the bill would give TikTok five months to break away from ByteDance or face being banned by app stores in the U.S. The measure has become increasingly controversial, due largely to the app’s popularity. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is expected to visit Capitol Hill today to meet with senators.

Lawmakers “have argued TikTok poses a national security threat because the Chinese government could use its intelligence laws against ByteDance, forcing it to hand over the data of U.S. app users,” reports CNN. “TikTok has called the legislation an attack on the constitutional right to freedom of expression for its users. It launched a call-to-action campaign within the app, urging users to call representatives in Washington to oppose the bill.”

Last year, Chew explained during a Congressional hearing that TikTok is “incorporated in the United States” and “is subject to the laws of the United States.” He said the company has made numerous efforts to address U.S. concerns. “Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” he said.

“The measure is the latest in a series of moves in Washington to respond to U.S. national security concerns about China, from connected vehicles to advanced artificial intelligence chips to cranes at U.S. ports,” notes Reuters.

Any legal challenges to a forced divestment would need to be filed within 165 days of the president’s signature. The measure may also face opposition from advocacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, based on free speech arguments.

What to Know About TikTok Owner ByteDance as U.S. Considers Possible Ban, The Washington Post, 3/13/24
U.S. Spy Chief “Cannot Rule Out” That China Would Use TikTok to Influence U.S. Elections, Reuters, 3/12/24
TikTok Plans Full Legal Fight if U.S. Divestment Bill Becomes Law, Bloomberg, 3/12/24
How TikTok Was Blindsided by U.S. Bill That Could Ban It, The Wall Street Journal, 3/12/24
A TikTok Ban May Be Easier in Theory, The Wall Street Journal, 3/12/24

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.