Bill Passed in US House of Representatives That Would Ban Tiktok Permanently

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that, if enacted, would trigger a nationwide prohibition of the popular video application TikTok unless its China-based owner divests its stake. Lawmakers took action amidst concerns that the existing ownership structure of the company poses a national security risk.

The bill, approved by a vote of 352-65, will now proceed to the Senate, where its fate remains uncertain.

TikTok, boasting over 170 million American users, operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chinese technology corporation ByteDance Ltd.

Lawmakers argue that ByteDance’s allegiance to the Chinese government could potentially grant access to the data of TikTok’s American users at the government’s behest, citing Chinese national security regulations mandating cooperation with intelligence activities.

“We have given TikTok a clear choice,” stated Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. “Either sever ties with your parent company ByteDance, which is under the influence of the CCP (the Chinese Communist Party), and continue operations in the United States, or align with the CCP and face the consequences. The decision lies with TikTok.”

While the House passage represents an initial step, the bill must also secure approval in the Senate to become law, with indications from lawmakers in that chamber suggesting it will undergo thorough scrutiny. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed the need to confer with relevant committee chairs to chart the bill’s trajectory.

President Joe Biden has signaled his intention to sign the measure should Congress approve it.

The House vote underscores escalating tensions between China and the U.S. By targeting TikTok, lawmakers confront what they perceive as a significant threat to America’s national security, while also singling out a platform favored by millions, particularly younger demographics, mere months ahead of an election.

In a video statement released on Wednesday evening, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew emphasized the company’s efforts to safeguard user data and maintain the platform’s integrity. Chew warned that the bill if enacted, would consolidate power among a handful of other social media companies.

“We will persist in advocating for you. We are committed to taking all necessary actions, including leveraging our legal rights, to defend this remarkable platform that we have developed with you,” Chew assured TikTok’s user base.

In anticipation of the vote, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin, accused Washington of resorting to political maneuvers when U.S. businesses fail to compete, warning that such efforts would disrupt normal business operations and undermine investor confidence, ultimately rebounding on the U.S. itself.

The bill garnered support from 197 Republican lawmakers, with 15 opposing, while among Democrats, 155 voted in favor and 50 against.

Some Republican dissenters argued that while consumers should be alerted to data privacy and propaganda concerns, the ultimate decision should rest with them.

“The response to authoritarianism cannot be more authoritarianism,” remarked Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. “Addressing CCP-style propaganda does not necessitate CCP-style suppression. Let us proceed cautiously before descending this very steep and treacherous slope.”

Josh Alba
Josh Alba
Josh Alba stands at the forefront of contemporary business journalism, his words weaving narratives that illuminate the intricate workings of the corporate world. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for uncovering the underlying stories behind financial trends, Josh has established himself as a trusted authority in business writing. Drawing from his wealth of experience and relentless pursuit of truth, Josh delivers insights that resonate with readers across industries.
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