US passes bill banning TikTok

Henry

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill that would force TikTok to cut ties with its Chinese holding company ByteDance or otherwise be banned from the United States.

In a rare moment of bipartisan unity in a politically divided Washington DC, lawmakers cast 352 votes in favor of the bill and 65 against it.

However, the bill’s future is unclear, as several influential members of the Senate are wary of taking such a strong stance against an app (application) that has 170 million users in the US.

The bill requires ByteDance to sell the app within 180 days or risk being removed from the US Apple and Google app stores.

According to the White House, Pres. Joe Biden the bill, officially known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Actundersigned.

In addition, it gives the president the authority to label similar apps as a threat to national security if they are controlled by a government that the US considers an enemy.

Wall Street Journal reported that TikTok executives were relieved when Biden joined the app last month as part of his campaign for a second term. The company was therefore unprepared for the new onslaught on the platform.

Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, is currently in Washington DC, where support is being gathered to block the bill.

“The latest legislation, which is being passed at unprecedented speed without the benefit of a public hearing, raises serious constitutional concerns,” writes Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s vice president of public policy in the US.

The co-authors of the bill, Mike Gallagher of the Republicans and Raja Krishnamoorthi of the Democrats, as well as the White House argue that the bill does not ban TikTok as long as ByteDance sells the company.

China warned on Wednesday that the move would have “inevitable consequences for the US”.

TikTok strongly denies any ties to the Chinese government and says the company has been restructured so that the data of American users remains in America.