U.S. House Approves Amended Measure to Prohibit TikTok or Compel Sale

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon that would require TikTok-owner ByteDance to sell the popular social media app or see it banned in the United States. Efforts to ban TikTok go back to the Trump Administration, but the issue has been revived in recent months. The House already passed a similar bill in March — a bill that the Senate showed little interest in taking up. The Senate could take up the package this coming week, and President Joe Biden has said he supports the bill and will sign it. If that happens, TikTok is expected to challenge the bill in court.

The U.S. House of Representatives has taken a decisive step this afternoon, passing a bill that will force the sale of TikTok, the popular social media app owned by ByteDance, or face a ban in the United States.

Efforts to ban TikTok first surfaced during the Trump Administration, but the issue has resurfaced in recent months. The House had previously passed a similar bill back in March, but the Senate did not show much interest in taking it up. This new version, however, extends the timeline for ByteDance to sell TikTok to nine months (compared to the previous six months), and also authorizes the president to grant an additional 90-day extension if needed.

This change has seemingly satisfied some Senate skeptics, including Senate Commerce chair Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), who told reporters on Thursday that she had suggested the extension as it “assures that divestiture will more likely happen.”

The revised bill was passed with a strong majority of 360-58, garnering support from both Republicans and Democrats. It is part of a larger package that includes foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, and was likely included as a way for House Speaker Mike Johnson to win over more conservative support.

The Senate is expected to take up the package next week, and President Joe Biden has expressed his approval for the bill and intends to sign it. However, if that happens, it is expected that TikTok will challenge the bill in court.

Biden’s administration has been briefing lawmakers on the national security risks posed by the app, both in terms of the potential for the Chinese government to access data on American users and use the app as a means of spreading propaganda to Americans. On the other side of the political spectrum, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) characterized the app as “a spy balloon in Americans’ phones” that is being used to “surveil and exploit America’s personal information.”

When it was announced earlier this week that a new TikTok bill was being considered, the company released a statement expressing its disagreement with the House, claiming that they are “using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance” in order to try and push through a bill that would “trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform.”

Civil liberties groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union, have also opposed previous attempts to ban the app.

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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