House Passes Bill That Could Ban TikTok From US

House lawmakers overwhelmingly passed legislation on March 13 that would ban TikTok from U.S. app stores if it doesn't divest from its China-based parent company, ByteDance. The bill received a bipartisan vote of 352-65 with one voting present. Chinese law can force businesses in that country to hand over user data to the regime.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that could ban TikTok from the United States and grant the president sweeping new authorities to target foreign companies in the United States.

The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act was passed in a bipartisan 352 to 65 vote on Wednesday. 197 Republicans and 155 Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while 50 Democrats and 15 Republicans voted against it. One Democrat vote “present.”

If signed into law, the bill will legally require social media giant TikTok to divest from its China-based parent company, ByteDance, or face a ban on U.S. app stores and hosting services.

The bill will now go to the Senate where, should it pass, President Joe Biden has vowed to sign it into law.

Since being introduced on March 5, the bill has sped through the congressional approval process, receiving a rare unanimous approval from the House Energy and Commerce Committee two days later.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said at the time that the bill was necessary to combat the regime’s influence in the United States.

“This is my message to TikTok: break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” Mr. Gallagher said in a prepared statement.

“TikTok’s time in the United States is over unless it ends its relationship with CCP-controlled ByteDance.”

Some security analysts believe that TikTok could be weaponized against American citizens through predatory surveillance practices, censorship, and the promotion of state-backed propaganda.

To counter that threat, the bill would create a process for the president to classify social media apps under the influence of certain foreign nations as hazards to national security and prohibit them from operating unless they transfer ownership to American companies.

In all, the bill would allow the president to force the divestiture of any social media company with over a million users that is based in China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia.

For its part, TikTok has lambasted the decision as an assault on free speech and even directed its users to call their representatives to demand a no vote on the bill.

“This bill is an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it,” a TikTok spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email. “This legislation will trample the First Amendment rights of 170 million Americans and deprive 5 million small businesses of a platform they rely on to grow and create jobs.”


That criticism has not gone unheard, and the bill’s purpose and structure have been critiqued by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well.

Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) suggested that the Energy and Commerce Committee’s rush job on approval was designed to prevent hesitancy about the bill from growing. The bill, he said, was a de facto ban.

“It’s unreasonable to believe that in 180 days a buyer will be found and a deal will be formed, which will result in the company being banned,” Mr. Frost told reporters on Tuesday.

“I believe that it is an infringement upon our First Amendment rights and it violates the Constitution.”

Mr. Frost added that the bill “does not fix” the problem of data flows, as American companies like Google, Meta, and X, formerly Twitter, are still allowed to legally sell Americans’ data to data brokers, who then sell it directly to China, where the CCP may access it at any time.

Some prominent Republicans like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), meanwhile, have raised concerns that the bill would be used to insulate American companies from competing with foreign firms and could be used in the future to target platforms that host perceived enemies of the administration.

“When Tik Tok [sic] is sold, who will buy it? And why is the expectation that it will be better?” Ms. Greene said in a social media post.

“If it’s Meta, the content will be very unlikely to change, therefore all the conservatives, who think this bill will protect our children, will be greatly disappointed when it doesn’t change at all.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said on the House floor that the bill should be called the “Facebook Protection and Enhancement Act” and would positively affect Meta’s share prices if approved.

Likewise, some major think tanks have begun lobbying against the effort, which they say replicates the CCP’s authoritarian governance model.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace condemned the bill as a form of “state-sponsored forced technology transfer” that would effectively allow American corporations to steal better Chinese technology, such as ByteDance’s social media algorithm.

Proponents of the bill say that such authority is necessary to prevent foreign powers from exploiting the United States’s relatively open market economy.

To that end, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), ranking member of the Select Committee on the CCP, said that the bill wasn’t a ban on any single application nor an affront to free speech but a choice between allegiance to the United States and China.

“This bill is not a ban, and it’s really not about TikTok,” Mr. Krishnamoorthi said. “This bill is a choice. And it’s a choice for ByteDance as well as any other social media app controlled by a foreign adversary.”

From The Epoch Times

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