U.S. House passes revised bill to ban TikTok or force sale

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon that would require TikTok-owner ByteDance to sell the popular social media app or see it banned in the United States.

Efforts to ban TikTok go back to the Trump Administration, but the issue has been revived in recent months. The House already passed a similar bill in March — a bill that the Senate showed little interest in taking up. This new version expands the window for ByteDance to sell TikTok to nine months (compared to six months in the previous bill), as well as giving the president ability to grant a single, additional 90-day extension.

It sounds like the change has satisfied some Senate skeptics. Senate Commerce chair Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told reporters Thursday that she’d suggested the extension, as it “assures that divestiture will more likely happen.”

The new bill was passed 360-58, with strong support from a majority of both Republicans and Democrats. It’s part of a larger package that includes foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, and was likely included as a way for House Speaker Mike Johnson to attract more conservative support.

The Senate could take up the package this coming week, and President Joe Biden has said he supports the bill and will sign it. If that happens, TikTok is expected to challenge the bill in court.

Biden’s administration has been briefing lawmakers on what it says are the national security threats posed by the app — both as a source of data on American users for the Chinese government, and as a channel for that same government to push propaganda to Americans. On the other side of the aisle, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) described the app today as “a spy balloon in Americans’ phones” used to “surveil and exploit America’s personal information.”

When it became clear a TikTok bill was back on the table earlier this week, the company posted a statement arguing that the House 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 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform.”

Civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union and have also opposed previous attempts to ban the app.

Source link