New bill that would effectively ban TikTok in US passes House

The bill would ban TikTok in the U.S. unless the social media platform's parent company, ByteDance, divests its holdings.

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The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday in a 352-65 bipartisan vote after a closed-door hearing and committee vote took place late last week. The bill would effectively ban TikTok in the U.S. unless the social media platform’s parent company, ByteDance, divests its holdings.

The legislation forces ByteDance to sell its TikTok shares within six months to a buyer that’s U.S. government approved to “guarantee that ByteDance no longer has any control over platform algorithms that recommend content to users,” according to a press release.

“This is a critical national security issue. The Senate must take this up and pass it,” No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise said on the social media platform X.

If ByteDance refuses to divest, then TikTok will be banned in the U.S. prohibiting cloud providers and app stores from distributing the social media platform, which currently has approximately 170 million users in the country.

Some who oppose the new bill said the government should “instead pass a federal privacy law that would limit how all companies collect, store, analyze and sell our personal data,” Jenna Ruddock, Free Press Action Policy Counsel, said.

“Banning a single platform will not address the problem at the root of the entire tech landscape,” Ruddock said. “At any given time, dozens of corporations are tracking us, analyzing our behavior and profiting off of our private information. An entire industry is dedicated to harvesting our sensitive data, selling it both in the United States and abroad, where it’s used to target people with unwelcome ads and political disinformation — and, potentially, pry into our personal lives. And all of this information is available to governments — to United States law enforcement and foreign intelligence agencies alike — on the open market for brokers and other intermediaries who sell data to interested buyers. It’s ridiculous for Congress to single out one app while failing to act on this huge problem that’s prevalent across all social media.”

The bill will head to the U.S. Senate, where there is no commitment from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring it up to vote. But President Biden vowed he will sign the bill into law if it gets to him.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press conference that the Biden administration wants to see “the Senate take swift action.”

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