U.S. House Passes Bill to Ban TikTok, Forcing Potential Sale by Chinese Owner

The U.S. House passes a bill to ban TikTok if its Chinese owner ByteDance doesn't sell its stake within a year, reflecting escalating tech tensions between the U.S. and China over national security concerns.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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U.S. House Passes Bill to Ban TikTok, Forcing Potential Sale by Chinese Owner

U.S. House Passes Bill to Ban TikTok, Forcing Potential Sale by Chinese Owner

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would ban the popular social media app TikTok in the United States if its China-based owner, ByteDance Ltd., does not sell its stake within a year. The bill, which passed with a 360-58 vote on Saturday, now heads to the Senate for a potential vote in the coming days. President Joe Biden has indicated he would sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

The bill reflects widespread concerns from lawmakers about potential national security risks posed by TikTok's Chinese ownership. Many U.S. officials and the Biden administration believe that China could compel ByteDance to share the data of TikTok's 170 million American users or manipulate the app's content to advance its interests. TikTok has repeatedly denied these assertions and said it has not shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities.

Why this matters: The potential ban of TikTok in the U.S. highlights the escalating tensions between the two countries over technology and national security. The legislation's passage could have significant implications for the millions of American users and businesses that rely on the platform, as well as set a precedent for the regulation of other foreign-owned social media apps.

The House bill gives ByteDance a nine-month deadline to divest the U.S. assets of TikTok, with a possible three-month extension if the president determines progress is being made towards a sale. TikTok has lobbied aggressively against the legislation, arguing that a ban would deprive its U.S. users of their First Amendment rights. The company has indicated it would likely challenge the law in court if it is passed.

Some lawmakers, such as Democratic Representative Ro Khanna, have raised concerns that a total ban may not be the best approach and could threaten free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union has also opposed the bill on First Amendment grounds. However, the legislation has gained broad bipartisan support, with many members of Congress worried about the app's data collection practices and potential for foreign influence.

"TikTok is a strategic asset for the Chinese Communist Party to influence the United States," argued Senator Marco Rubio, a key proponent of the divestment legislation. The bill's quick path through Congress is extraordinary, as lawmakers have historically taken a hands-off approach to tech regulation. The TikTok ban reflects the broader tensions between the U.S. and China, with Washington increasingly scrutinizing Chinese companies over national security concerns.

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. House passes bill to ban TikTok if ByteDance doesn't sell stake within a year.
  • Bill cites national security risks from TikTok's Chinese ownership; Biden signals support.
  • Potential ban could have significant implications for U.S. users and businesses.
  • TikTok argues ban would violate free speech; some lawmakers share this concern.
  • Bill reflects broader U.S.-China tensions over technology and national security.