Home News US House passes bill that could ban TikTok amid national security concerns

US House passes bill that could ban TikTok amid national security concerns

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The United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a bill that could eventually ban the social media platform TikTok in the country, in its latest salvo against both China and big tech.

The bill received resoundingly bipartisan support, with vote of 352 to 65 in favour. It now heads to the 100-member Senate, where its prospects are less clear. For his part, President Joe Biden has said he would sign the bill into law if it reached his desk.

If that happened, TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance would be given about six months to divest from its US assets or see its video-sharing app banned in the US.

The legislation stems from concerns that ByteDance is beholden to the Chinese government. Government officials have expressed fears that the data TikTok collects from its roughly 170 million American users could pose a national security threat.

Recent national security laws passed in China, which can compel organisations to assist with intelligence gathering, have further buoyed those concerns.

Bytedance, however, has repeatedly maintained it operates independently of the Chinese government.

Speaking on Wednesday, US Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the legislation has “given TikTok a clear choice”.

“Separate from your parent company ByteDance, which is beholden to the CCP [the Chinese Communist Party], and remain operational in the United States, or side with the CCP and face the consequences,” she said. “The choice is TikTok’s.”

Opponents of Wednesday’s bill cited concerns about freedom of speech and called the move a knee-jerk effort that falls short of meaningful reform.

“Rather than target one company in a rushed and secretive process, Congress should pass comprehensive data privacy protections and do a better job of informing the public of the threats these companies may pose to national security,” Representative Barbara Lee, a progressive stalwart, posted on the social media platform X.

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Source: Aljazeera

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