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US House Approves Bill Mandating That ByteDance Sell TikTok Or Risk Being Banned

US House Approves Bill Mandating That ByteDance Sell TikTok Or Risk Being Banned
In the biggest danger to the short-video app TikTok since the Trump administration, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly backed a bill that would give ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, roughly six months to sell off its U.S. assets or risk having the app banned.
With a bipartisan vote of 352-65, the law was approved, but it now faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where some senators want to regulate foreign-owned applications differently, raising security issues. The legislation will be reviewed by the Senate, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The action is the most recent in a slew of steps taken by Washington in response to American national security worries regarding China, including linked cars, sophisticated AI chips, and cranes stationed at American ports.
"This is a critical national security issue. The Senate must take this up and pass it," No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise said of TikTok on social media platform X. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre added later that the Biden administration also wanted to see "the Senate take swift action."
About 170 million Americans use TikTok, and its future has become a major issue in Washington, where lawmakers have complained that legislators' offices are inundated with calls from TikTok users opposing legislation.
In a video released following the vote, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew—who, according to a source briefed on the subject, is visiting Washington this week—stated that if the legislation is signed into law, it "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."
In order to avoid a ban, he continued, the corporation will use its legal rights. President Joe Biden, who promised to sign the law last week, gives the business 165 days to launch a legal challenge.
The law is becoming more and more supported by the political environment in Washington, where many legislators do not want to be perceived as being lenient towards China in an election year. However, there are worries about how any restriction would affect younger voters.
National security advisor to the White House Jake Sullivan questioned: "Do we want TikTok, as a platform, to be owned by an American company or owned by China? Do we want the data from TikTok - children's data, adults’ data - to be going, to be staying here in America or going to China?"
"Though the U.S. has never found any evidence of TikTok posing a threat to the U.S.'s national security, it has never stopped going after TikTok," the Chinese Foreign Ministry has criticised the law.
House Democratic Whip Kathleen Clark, Arizona Senate candidate Ruben Gallego, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the leading Democrats on the Judiciary, Ways and Means, Transportation, and Intelligence committees were among the notable Democrats who voted against the plan.
"There are serious antitrust and privacy questions here, and any national security concerns should be laid out to the public prior to a vote," Ocasio-Cortez said.
Maria Cantwell, the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, stated that she is studying a separate measure and wants legislation "that could hold up in court," but she is unsure of her next course of action. Cantwell will be crucial to the Senate's decision-making process.
The law was created, heard one public hearing with minimal discussion, and then delayed for more than a year in Congress before being put to a vote just over a week ago. When Biden's reelection campaign joined TikTok last month, corporate insiders began to believe that this year's legislation would not likely pass.
Before the vote, a number of dozen TikTok users staged a protest outside the Capitol. According to a TikTok representative, the corporation covered the cost of their lodging and transportation to Washington.
Among the group was 23-year-old Mona Swain, who claimed to have signed up for TikTok during her first year of college studying musical theatre in 2019. She revealed that, as a full-time content creator, the money she made from the app was going towards her brother and sister's college education as well as her mother's mortgage.
The bill's most frightening aspect, according to Swain, is that it will likely result in many people losing their jobs.
It is uncertain if TikTok's U.S. assets could be sold in six months, or if China would approve of any sale at all.
In the event that ByteDance was unable to fulfil this obligation, TikTok and web hosting services for ByteDance-controlled applications could not be lawfully offered in app stores run by Apple, Alphabet's Google, and others.
The courts stopped then-President Donald Trump's attempt to outlaw TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat in 2020. He had voiced reservations about a ban in recent days, but almost all House Republicans dismissed them.
It's unclear if the law will prohibit Tencent's WeChat or other well-known Chinese-owned apps.
In addition to TikTok's anticipated legal action, the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups contend that the bill violates the First Amendment's protections against free speech among other things.
After the business filed a lawsuit, a U.S. judge invalidated a Montana state ban on TikTok use in November.`

Christopher J. Mitchell

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