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Camilla Care

US lawmakers pass legislation to ban TikTok

Vaseline 1 month ago

The House of Representatives has passed legislation that would ban TikTok in the United States if the China-based owner of the social media platform does not sell its stake within a year. House Republicans’ decision to include TikTok as part of a larger foreign aid package accelerated the ban after an earlier version stalled in the Senate.

A standalone bill with a six-month sales deadline passed the House of Representatives in March by an overwhelming vote, as both Democrats and Republicans raised national security concerns about the app’s owner, China’s technology company ByteDance. The amended measure now heads to the Senate, after negotiations that led to a compromise.

Even if the legislation becomes law, the company still has a year to find a buyer and will likely try to challenge the law in court, arguing that it would deprive the app’s millions of users of their rights to would take away the First Amendment. Challenges in court could significantly delay the timeline set by Congress or hinder the law’s enactment.

The company lobbied hard against the legislation, urging the app’s 170 million U.S. users — many of whom are young — to call Congress and voice their opposition. But the ferocity of the backlash angered lawmakers on Capitol Hill, where there are widespread concerns about Chinese threats to the U.S. and few members use the platform themselves.

“We will not stop fighting and advocating for you,” TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in a video posted on the platform last month addressed to the app’s users. We will continue to do everything we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this incredible platform we have built with you.”

The bill’s rapid passage through Congress is extraordinary because it targets one company and because Congress has taken a hands-off approach to technology regulation for decades. Lawmakers had failed to take action despite efforts to, among other things, protect children online, ensure user privacy and make companies more accountable for content posted on their platforms.

The TikTok ban reflects lawmakers’ widespread concerns about China.

Members of both parties, along with intelligence officials, are concerned that Chinese authorities could force ByteDance to hand over U.S. user data or direct the company to suppress or boost TikTok content favorable to its interests.