The House of Representatives Voted to Ban TikTok and what could come next

  • The House of Representatives Voted to Ban TikTok and what could come next

    Posted by Unknown Member on March 20, 2024 at 4:44 pm

    The House voted overwhelmingly to approve a bipartisan bill that would require ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to sell the social media app or face a ban on all U.S. devices. The vote was 352-65.

    The legislation’s fate is unclear in the Senate. The top two lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, and Mark Warner, D-Va., released a joint statement praising the House bill and urging Senate action but the timeline is unclear. Several lawmakers have suggested the Senate should hold hearings on the legislation before moving forward.

    Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., who chairs the House Select Committee on China and is the lead GOP sponsor of the bipartisan bill, maintains that the bill does not amount to a ban of the video-sharing app.

    “What we’re after is, it’s not a ban, it’s a forced separation,” Gallagher told NPR. “The TikTok user experience can continue and improve so long as ByteDance doesn’t own the company.”

    In practice, however, the bill would ban TikTok in the United States. Both the company and China, historically, have refused to consider divestiture.

    TikTok has said the banning of a social media platform would amount to a violation of the free speech rights of millions of Americans.

    Gallagher says classified and unclassified national security assessments show that the app is a threat to user privacy and that it’s been used to target journalists and interfere in elections. Top officials from intelligence and national security agencies conducted a classified briefing on their analysis for all House members on Tuesday. Classified information is not made public, in part, because it deals with matters of national security.

    However, officials have not offered public evidence of the Chinese Communist Party using the app for surveillance or propaganda purposes, though experts say it is theoretically possible that Beijing could use TikTok to push its agenda.

    FBI Director Christopher Wray has also publicly testified about his concerns about the app, including during an appearance last week at a Senate hearing on worldwide threats to U.S. security. In that testimony, Wray told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Chinese government could use the app to control software on millions of devices, among other concerns.

    “We’re not sure that we would see many of the outward signs of it happening if it was happening,” Wray said.

    Gallagher says the lobbying campaign that TikTok launched — with push notices using location information to connect users by phone to their member of Congress — proves why the bill is needed.

    “You had member offices being deluged with calls, you know, teenagers crying and one threatening suicide and one impersonating one of my colleague’s sons,” he said. “That, to me, demonstrates how the platform could be weaponized in the future.”

    The bipartisan bill, dubbed the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act,” blocks any app store or webhosting services in the U.S. for ByteDance-controlled applications, including TikTok, unless the app severs ties to ByteDance, under a designation that it’s subject to the control of a foreign adversary.

    The bill gives ByteDance up to six months to divest, and if it doesn’t do that it would no longer be available in app stores in the U.S.

    The bill also sets up a process for the president to address any future threats from any foreign-owned apps if they are deemed a national security risk. It also creates a system for users to download their own data and switch to an alternate platform.

    https://www.npr.org/2024/03/13/1237501725/house-vote-tiktok-ban

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