TikTok prohibition legislation passed by the US House in response to national security concerns

TikTok prohibition legislation passed by the US House in response to national security concerns

In the biggest danger to the short-video app since the Trump administration, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly backed a bill on Wednesday that would give ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, about six months to sell up its U.S. assets or risk having the service banned.

The law was overwhelmingly supported by both parties, with a vote of 352 in favor and 65 against. It now moves to the Senate, which has 100 members, where its future is less certain. In his own words, if the measure made it to his desk, President Joe Biden would sign it into law.

On March 5, Representatives Mike Gallagher and Raja Krishnamoorthi of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party proposed the legislation, which is known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. Two days later, the measure referring to TikTok as a danger to national security because it is controlled by a foreign opponent was overwhelmingly approved by House members on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in a video posted Wednesday the legislation if signed into law “will lead to a ban on TikTok in the United States… and would take billions of dollars out of the pockets of creators and small businesses. It will put 300,000 American jobs at risk.”

He added the company will “not stop fighting” and will exercise its legal rights to prevent a ban.

The political atmosphere is shifting in the bill’s favor. “Do we want TikTok, as a platform, to be owned by an American company or owned by China?” said White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan on Tuesday, following President Joe Biden’s announcement last week that he would sign it. Do we want the data from TikTok—both the adult and kid data—to remain in the United States or move to China?

It’s still unclear if the law will prohibit popular Chinese-owned applications like Tencent’s WeChat or others. Legal challenges would almost probably be brought against any compelled TikTok divestment from the United States, and the corporation would have to file them within 165 days of the president signing the measure.

Potential legal challenges remain as the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups contend that the measure violates the Constitution on grounds of free speech and other fundamental violations.

After the business filed a lawsuit, a U.S. judge invalidated a Montana state ban on TikTok use in November.

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