ByteDance may have to sell TikTok or face US ban

ByteDance may have to sell TikTok or face US ban

ByteDance may have to sell TikTok or face US banIn an effort to address national security concerns regarding its Chinese ownership, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers filed legislation on Tuesday that would give China’s ByteDance around six months to divest the well-known short video app TikTok or face a US ban.

The bill is the first big legislative step in almost a year towards the well-known app or compelling ByteDance to sell the popular app; last year, senate legislation to outlaw it languished in Congress due to strong TikTok lobbying.

More than a dozen lawmakers have introduced the bill, which is scheduled to be put to a vote on Thursday. Among them are Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, the senior Democrat, and Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the House of Representatives’ select China committee.

“This is my message to TikTok: break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” stated Gallagher. “America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States.”

More than 170 million Americans use TikTok. If the bill passes, ByteDance will have 165 days to give up the app. Otherwise, it will become illegal for app stores owned by Apple (AAPL.O), Google (GOOGL.O), and other companies to offer TikTok or web hosting services for apps that ByteDance controls.

However, the bill would not permit any enforcement actions against specific users of an affected app.

A representative for the firm stated on Tuesday that “this bill is an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it.”

“This legislation 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.”


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A White House National Security Council representative referred to the bill as “an important and welcome step” and stated that the Biden administration will collaborate with Congress to ” further strengthen this legislation and put it on the strongest possible legal footing.”

The person continued, “To combat threats from tech services operating in the United States that pose risks to Americans’ sensitive data and broader national security, the administration has collaborated with lawmakers from both parties.”

According to TikTok, the company has yet to share user data from Americans with the Chinese government and will never do so.

The American Civil Liberties Union declared the bill unlawful, claiming that politicians were “once again attempting to trade our First Amendment rights for cheap political points during an election year.”

At a hearing on Thursday, the Energy and Commerce Committee will consider and vote on the bill, which would necessitate similar legislation in the Senate.

The bill would “prevent foreign adversaries, such as China, from surveilling and manipulating the American people” via internet apps like TikTok, according to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the committee.

However, given the app’s widespread use, passing legislation during an election year might take much work. The Democratic Party’s campaign for President Joe Biden’s reelection joined TikTok last month.

The measure would grant the president additional authority to identify applications that pose a risk to national security, label them as such, and threaten to ban or restrict them unless ownership is transferred.

The measure states that it would apply to apps with more than a million active users annually and controlled by a foreign hostile entity.

Congress tried to address the dangers of the short video-sharing app TikTok last year, with the possibility of outlawing it due to worries about the Chinese-owned company. Congress forbade federal employees from using it on official devices towards the end of 2022.

The administration supported legislation last year sponsored by Senator Mark Warner and over twenty senators, giving it further authority to outlaw foreign-based technology like TikTok and others if they threaten national security.

There has never been a vote on that bill.

According to Reuters and other news sources, the U.S. Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) asked in March 2023 that TikTok’s Chinese owners relinquish their shares or risk the app being banned. However, the administration has not acted on this demand.

The new bill seeks to strengthen the law’s ability to deal with issues related to TikTok. In 2020, former President Donald Trump attempted to outlaw TikTok, but US courts thwarted his attempt.

In late November, a US judge halted Montana’s first-ever state ban on TikTok, citing the platform’s violation of users’ free speech rights.

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