US House Advances Bill Potentially Impacting TikTok's Availability

US House Advances Bill Potentially Impacting TikTok's Availability

tiktok usa,TikTok bill, ByteDance, U.S. House, national security, surveillance

A bill with the potential to restrict the availability of the popular video-sharing app TikTok in the United States is swiftly gaining momentum in the House. Concerns about the platform's surveillance capabilities and potential manipulation of American users have prompted lawmakers to take action, with the bill receiving bipartisan support and advancing out of committee in a unanimous vote.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has thrown his support behind the measure, signaling its potential for a full vote in the House. The bill, which has received technical support from the White House, aims to address the perceived threats posed by TikTok, particularly its ownership by ByteDance Ltd., based in Beijing.

The proposed legislation takes a two-pronged approach. Firstly, it mandates ByteDance to divest TikTok and other controlled applications within 180 days of the bill's enactment, or face prohibition in the United States. Secondly, it establishes a process to allow the executive branch to restrict access to apps owned by foreign adversaries if they pose national security threats.

Lawmakers view this bill as a crucial bipartisan effort to counter China's influence, emphasizing the need to address the active undermining of the U.S. economy and security. Concerns have been raised about the potential for the Chinese government to leverage TikTok to gather data on American users and spread misinformation beneficial to Beijing.

TikTok has vehemently opposed the bill, asserting that it effectively amounts to an outright ban on the platform, infringing on the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans and impacting small businesses and creators. However, the bill's author, Rep. Mike Gallagher, has refuted these claims, emphasizing that the legislation aims to prompt a change in TikTok's ownership rather than an outright ban.

The bill's progress comes amid ongoing investigations into ByteDance's activities, with the company currently under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice for surveilling American journalists. To address lawmakers' concerns, TikTok has pledged to segregate U.S. user data from its parent company and store new user data on servers maintained by the software company Oracle.

Despite the White House's engagement with TikTok, including the president's campaign hosting a TikTok account, the administration continues to express reservations about the platform's potential security risks. While the White House welcomes lawmakers' efforts on the TikTok legislation, it emphasizes the need for further refinement before potential endorsement by President Joe Biden.

As the debate surrounding TikTok's presence in the U.S. intensifies, the bill's fate remains uncertain. The ongoing discussions underscore the complex intersection of national security, free speech, and economic considerations, as policymakers grapple with the implications of TikTok's operations within the country.

News Agencies

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