The House Approved a Bill to Banned TikTok in the USA if TikTok Owner Doesn’t Sell the App

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would force TikTok’s Chinese owner to either sell the app or be banned in the United States. The move escalates a showdown between Beijing and Washington over the control of technologies that could affect national security, free speech, and the social media industry. The bill, which passed with a lopsided vote of 352-65, was supported by Republicans and Democrats. 

The move came despite TikTok’s efforts to mobilize its 170 million U.S. users against the measure and amid the Biden administration’s push to persuade lawmakers that Chinese ownership of the platform poses grave national security risks to the United States. The bill faces a difficult road to passage in the Senate, where Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has been noncommittal about bringing it to the floor for a vote. If the bill becomes law, it would likely deepen a cold war between the United States and China over the control of important technologies.

March 2023: Lobbyist standing outside of the Capitol advocating to keep TikTok; Photo Credit: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

TikTok has prompted users to call their representatives to protest a bill aimed at banning the platform in the United States. The bill, known as Project Texas, aims to handle sensitive user data separately from the company’s operations. The bill has been under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). 

Two lawmakers behind the bill, Senators Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi, argue that the CFIUS panel hasn’t solved the problem. Several Republicans and Democrats have expressed opposition to the bill, citing free speech concerns and TikTok’s popularity. 

Legal experts suggest that if the bill becomes law, it would likely face First Amendment scrutiny in the courts. Representative Maxwell Frost, a Democrat, said the legislation is an infringement of First Amendment rights. The bill could also crumble under a new administration, as President Trump reversed his position on the app, stating that banning it would help Facebook. The White House provided technical assistance to the bill’s authors.

Call your local representative if you’re against the ban.

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