Congress Passes Bill to Ban TikTok in US

Sun Apr 21 2024
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WASHINGTON, United States: On Saturday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would force the wildly popular social media app TikTok to disassociate with Chinese parent company ByteDance or face being banned from the US market.

US and other Western officials have expressed concern over TikTok’s popularity among young people, arguing that it allows the Chinese government to spy on users. There are 170 million people living in the United States alone.

These critics also claim that TikTok is controlled by the Chinese government and acts as a conduit for spreading propaganda. Chinese government and the company deny these charges.

The bill, which could trigger an unprecedented ban on company operating in US markets, is set to be voted on by the Senate next week. The bill was approved on Saturday with a difference of 360-58 with the strong support of two parties.

President Biden has promised to sign the bill. He reiterated his concerns about TikTok during a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month.

The ultimatum to the social media platform was included in a broader text that provides aid for Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel.

TikTok quickly responded Saturday after the vote, saying in a statement “it is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually.”

The bill suggests ByteDance to sell the app within a year or be excluded from Apple and Google’s app stores in the United States.

The House of Representatives last month approved a similar bill cracking down on the app, but the measure got held up in the Senate.

TikTok has been under spotlight in the US for years, with authorities saying the platform allows Beijing to snoop on users in the United States.

But a law banning it could trigger lawsuits. The bill gives the US president the authority to designate other applications as a threat to national security if they are controlled by a country deemed hostile.

Elon Musk, owner of X, came out Friday against banning TikTok, saying it went against freedom of expression.

“TikTok should not be banned in the USA, even though such a ban may benefit the X platform,” Musk said in a post on the social network he acquired in 2022.

“Doing so would be contrary to freedom of speech and expression,” said Musk.

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