U.S. Congress Advances Bill to Force TikTok Sale or Face Ban

The U.S. House moves to ban TikTok if its Chinese parent company ByteDance doesn't divest, sparking escalating tensions between the U.S. and China over technology and national security concerns.

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Bijay Laxmi
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U.S. Congress Advances Bill to Force TikTok Sale or Face Ban

U.S. Congress Advances Bill to Force TikTok Sale or Face Ban

The U.S. House of Representatives has renewed its push to ban TikTok if its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, does not divest from the popular social media platform. The revised legislation, included in a package of bills that would send aid to Ukraine and Israel, would give ByteDance nine months to sell TikTok, with a possible three-month extension if a sale is in progress. The bill would also bar ByteDance from controlling TikTok's algorithm.

Lawmakers from both parties, as well as law enforcement and intelligence officials, have voiced apprehensions that the Chinese government could force ByteDance to hand over data on the 170 million Americans who use TikTok. "TikTok is a modern-day Trojan horse of the Chinese Communist Party used to surveil and exploit Americans' personal information," said Representative Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

TikTok has denied these assertions and said it has never shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities. The company has spent over $5 million on TV ads opposing the legislation and is attempting to counter the bill by emphasizing its investments in data safety and the positive impacts it has on content creators and small businesses.

Why this matters: The potential TikTok ban highlights the escalating tensions between the U.S. and China over technology and national security concerns. The fate of the immensely popular app, used by millions of Americans, hangs in the balance as lawmakers confront how to address perceived threats from foreign-owned tech companies.

The bill faces opposition from some lawmakers who say it sets a dangerous precedent, and it is expected to be challenged by TikTok in court if it becomes law. The House is expected to vote on the legislation on Saturday as part of the foreign aid package. If passed, the bill would move to the Senate for consideration, where its future remains uncertain.

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. House seeks to ban TikTok if ByteDance doesn't divest within 9-12 months.
  • Lawmakers cite concerns over Chinese government accessing U.S. user data.
  • TikTok denies sharing data with Chinese authorities and opposes the legislation.
  • Proposed bill faces opposition, but could move to Senate if passed by House.
  • Potential TikTok ban reflects escalating U.S.-China tensions over technology and security.