House Approves Bill that Could Ban TikTok in the US

Biden to Continue Using TikTok Despite Banning It in the USBiden to Continue Using TikTok Despite Banning It in the US

The US House has agreed on a bill that could ban TikTok, attached to aid for Ukraine and Israel, pressuring the Senate to vote in favor.

If enacted, TikTok will have 270 days to find a new owner, or be removed from all US app stores, after lawmakers approved the bill on Saturday.

“Walking” on a tight rope

Although used by over 170 million people in the US, TikTok, is now in a predicament and might not survive in the US unless it “part ways with its Chinese parent company ByteDance.”

According to CNN, the 360-58 by partisan vote marks one of its latest and most telling defeats, with the bill resembling an earlier version which was approved sometime this year in March. That version also emphasized on banning TikTok app from US app stores unless it found new owners with haste.

Now, House Republicans have put pressure on Senate to also consider the bill after attaching the video social media app to funding Ukrainian military equipment and Israeli missile defense.

According to CNN, policy analysts expect Senate “to take up the aid quickly, giving it high odds of passage.” Additionally, the US President Joe Biden has previously hinted on signing the TikTok bill once it “reaches his desk.”

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Fighting for its market’s free speech

TikTok is not taking it lightly and has been vocal in opposing the bill. The social media platform has for several weeks now carried on a massive campaign to survive the legislation arguing that it violates users’ First Amendment rights. It has also argued the potential bans will have a knock on effect on small businesses.

“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 seven million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the US economy, annually,” said TikTok in a post on X platform.

According to CNN, the move by the US to speed up the bill displays how policy priorities outside TikTok’s control have merged “to create a potent and potentially devastating outcome for an app beloved by many young Americans.” However, the US authorities see TikTok as a “national security risk.”

The US are concerned about Beijing’s grip on private companies and how much the Communist party controls companies like ByteDance, and the data they hold.

China has however dismissed such worries “as American paranoia” warning that a TikTok ban will “inevitably come back to bite the US.”

But US lawmakers insist that TikTok’s owner ByteDance is compliant to Beijing although the company has denied the accusations. And the TikTok legislation was included in a package that, according to BBC would send $61 billion in foreign aid to Ukraine and money for Israel and Taiwan.

TikTok might strike back

The new version of the bill, which was approved on Saturday gives TikTok less than a year, 270 days to be precise to find a new owner once it is signed to law. The prior versions gave it about six months. According to the bill, it also allows the White House room to extend that deadline by another 90 days if the President “determines there is progress towards a sale.”

TikTok will not concede defeat without a fight. The video social network has hinted it might sue to stop the House’s divesture legislation. In March, it told users that it plans to continue fighting, “including (by) exercising our legal rights.”

If this comes to pass, this will set the stage for “high-stakes battle over Americans’ rights to access digital information,” according to CNN.

Lawmakers determined to finish up with TikTok legislation

Prior the Saturday vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stressed the urgent need of approving the foreign aid. On Saturday, he said on the Senate floor that there is a “tentative agreement for the chamber to take up the foreign aid package on Tuesday.

This, according to Paul Gallant, a policy analyst at research firm Cowen Inc show there is a high likelihood the bill will pass.

“We believe TikTok is unlikely to get stripped from the larger package,” Gallant wrote in a research note Friday.

Gallant says there is an 80% chance that Senate will pass the bill, adding they may take one or two weeks. But Senate lawmakers have indicated they may pass it sooner.




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