“Uncovering the Truth: The Latest Bill Threatening a TikTok Ban”

What’s going on with the new bill that could ban TikTok? Congress wants to force TikTok to part with its Chinese parent companyTikTok faces an uncertain fate in the U.S. once again. The bill, which many of its detractors reasonably describe as a “ban,” would force ByteDance to sell TikTok within six months in order for the app to continue operating here. The campaign to force ByteDance to sell TikTok to a U.S. company originated with an executive order during the Trump administration. We may learn more next week if senators begin weighing in on the prospect of creating their own version of the house bill.

The United States government is putting pressure on social media app TikTok once again. This time, Congress is aiming to separate the app from its Chinese parent company, threatening to ban it from the country entirely.

Despite being based in Los Angeles and Singapore, TikTok is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance. This has raised concerns among U.S. officials, who worry that the app could be used to advance the interests of an adversary.

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced a new bill designed to force ByteDance to sell TikTok. The legislation, known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, would make it illegal for software with ties to U.S. adversaries to be distributed within the country. This includes ownership by an entity based in a country like China.

“It shall be unlawful for an entity to distribute, maintain, or update (or enable the distribution, maintenance, or updating of) a foreign adversary controlled application,” states the bill, which specifically names TikTok. If passed, this would prevent the app from being available on platforms like Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

The bill also includes a provision requiring ByteDance to sell TikTok within six months in order for the app to continue operating in the U.S. Additionally, it gives the president oversight over the sale to ensure that the company is no longer controlled by a foreign adversary.

Upon learning of the bill’s surprisingly swift progress in Congress, TikTok responded by sending a mass in-app message to its U.S. users. The message included a button for users to contact their representatives and speak out against the bill.

“Speak up now — before your government strips 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression,” the message read. “Let Congress know what TikTok means to you and tell them to vote NO.”

However, despite TikTok’s attempt to rally its users, the bill passed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee with a unanimous vote of 50-0 on Thursday. Now, it is expected to go to a full vote in the House in the coming week.

Prior to the vote, subcommittee members were given a classified briefing by the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as requested by the Biden administration, according to Punchbowl News.

President Biden himself has expressed support for the bill, stating that he would sign it if it reached his desk. “If they pass it, I’ll sign it,” he told reporters on Friday in response to a question about banning TikTok.

Why is the U.S. government targeting TikTok?

It’s important to note that there is currently no public evidence suggesting that China has accessed or compromised American data through TikTok.

  • However, the Chinese ownership of the app has raised concerns among U.S. officials.
  • FBI Director Chris Wray has warned that users may not see any “outward signs” if China were to interfere with TikTok. He also stated that the government’s deep involvement in businesses makes it difficult to differentiate between the private and public sectors.
  • On the other hand, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has adamantly denied these accusations, asserting that ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country.

It’s worth noting that even if China wanted to access American user data, they could easily do so through data brokers who openly sell user data without much regulation or oversight.

With no public evidence to support its claims, the U.S. government’s crackdown on TikTok has sparked criticism that it is simply political posturing and possibly motivated by racism towards China.

What happens next?

This campaign to force ByteDance to sell TikTok began with an executive order from former President Trump. The plan involved forcing the app to sell its U.S. operations to Oracle, despite receiving a previous acquisition offer from Microsoft. However, this plan ultimately did not come to fruition.

With the change in administration, the pressure campaign against TikTok has escalated under President Biden. Now, with the passing of the new bill in the House committee, it may seem like the campaign is back on track.

However, the bill still needs to go to a full vote in the House, and its fate in the Senate is unknown. While there is bipartisan support for regulating TikTok, the app is incredibly popular with 170 million American users, making it unlikely for them to sit by quietly if it is banned.

A spokesperson for TikTok has already spoken out against the bill, stating that it has a “predetermined outcome” of banning the app in the U.S. They also warn of the potential impact on small businesses, artists, and creators who rely on TikTok for their livelihoods.

One thing is for sure: the battle between the U.S. government and TikTok is far from over. And with a direct line to millions of loyal users and a powerful platform, TikTok may hold more power than the government originally anticipated.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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