Skip to main content
Camilla Care

The US House passes a bill that could ban TikTok

Vaseline 1 month ago

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP

The legislation requires the popular video-sharing app to be spun off from its Chinese parent company in order to operate in the US. It would then have to go to the Senate for a vote.

The US House of Representatives on Saturday passed a bill that could see the wildly popular video creation and sharing app TikTok banned in the country unless it divests itself from Chinese parent company ByteDance.

The bill was passed with 360 votes in favor and only 58 against. The bill is expected to go to the Senate for a vote next week.

TikTok, whose popularity is especially high among younger generations, criticized the bill, which was part of a larger bill that provided aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The app warned that, if passed, the legislation would “trample the freedom of speech of 170 million Americans, destroy 7 million businesses and close a platform that contributes $24 billion (€22.5 billion) annually to the U.S. economy.”

US President Joe Biden has said he would approve the legislation if it comes to him.

What does the bill determine?
The bill gives Chinese owner ByteDance nine months to sell the app, with a possible three-month extension if a sale is underway. The parent company would also no longer have control over TikTok’s algorithm, which delivers videos to users based on their needs.

Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary under former President Donald Trump, has said he is interested in acquiring the app and has gathered a group of investors.

The latest bill is a revision of an earlier bill passed by the House of Representatives in March that required ByteDance to sell TikTok within six months. However, some senators were concerned that six months would be too short a time frame.

Why is there resistance to TikTok?
US officials have raised alarm over the app’s growing popularity, especially among young people, claiming it could allow Beijing to spy on its roughly 170 million users in the country.

A number of Chinese national security laws require organizations to assist in intelligence gathering. Lawmakers and officials are also wary that Beijing could directly influence TikTok content based on its interests.

TikTok has denied that it could be used as a tool for the Chinese government or that it has ever shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities, and has vowed never to do so even if asked.

The bill’s opponents argue that Beijing could easily obtain data on U.S. citizens through other means, including through commercial data brokers that sell or rent personal information.

Among the bill’s opponents is billionaire Elon Musk, who now owns the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

“TikTok should not be banned in the US, even though such a ban could benefit the X platform,” Musk said. “This would violate freedom of speech and expression.”