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End of Tiktok? US House panel pushes bill that could ban app

On Thursday, 19 US lawmakers pushed forward a bill that could potentially ban the popular Chinese short-video app "TikTok" nationwide. Here's why


Amidst a global landscape of controversy and restriction, TikTok, the immensely popular Chinese video-sharing platform, finds itself boiling in hot water once again. Having faced bans in a dozen nations including India, Australia, and the United Kingdom, the app now confronts mounting pressure from US lawmakers. With a proposed bill demanding ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to sell the app within a tenure of six months or face a ban, the fate of this popular video platform remains in question. With support from the White House, this bipartisan bill highlighted concerns that Chinese authorities could access and potentially breach user data through the app.

The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce plans to discuss and vote on a new bill named the “Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” this Thursday. The bill was introduced by 19 lawmakers from different parties earlier this week. Representative Mike Gallagher, who leads the House select China committee, and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, a senior Democrat on the panel, wrote the bill together. They’re both part of the Intelligence Committee and have recently traveled to Taiwan and other parts of the Indo-Pacific region.

TikTok’s encounter with legal hurdles in the US is not unprecedented. In May 2023, the Montana House of Representatives enacted a prohibition on the app, raising a possibility of its potential illegality had the state’s governor signed the bill. Nevertheless, a judicial intervention thwarted the state’s attempts, deeming the legislation unconstitutional in its infringement upon the fundamental freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.

What’s the bill about?


The bill sees ByteDance, the Chinese company behind TikTok, as a threat from a foreign nation. It requires ByteDance to sell TikTok within 165 days or risk a ban. Under the bill, the President, with help from the FBI and other intelligence agencies, would identify social media platforms controlled by foreign adversaries, like Russia and China, that pose national security risks. Any app deemed risky would be taken down from app stores and web hosting until it cuts ties with foreign-controlled businesses. This puts TikTok in jeopardy, as the FBI Director has labeled it a national security threat, unless ByteDance acts quickly to sell it off.

Addressing reporters on Wednesday, Gallagher articulated, “TikTok could live on and people could do whatever they want on it provided there is that separation.” He extended an earnest plea to US ByteDance investors, urging them to lend their backing to a potential sale, emphasizing that it wasn’t a prohibition but could be seen more as a surgical intervention aimed at ensuring safety.

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