Helena Lyng Blak
10 weeks ago

US TikTok-ban progresses

Lawmakers push for Chinese parent company to sell the app to avoid a ban. Lawmakers push for Chinese parent company to sell the app to avoid a ban.
Closeup of someone holding a phone with the TikTok logo on the screen, in front of a laptop.
THICHA SATAPITANON / Shutterstock.com

The United States House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee has unanimously advanced a bill that would give ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, 165 days to sell off its ownership of TikTok, writes Variety.

The bipartisan bill was introduced on March 5 and is the latest attempt by US regulators to shut down the popular app due to concerns regarding users’ data security.

The US government’s pushback on TikTok and ByteDance dates back to 2020, when former President Trump raised alarm over TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government, saying the app could pose a national security risk and be used to spread propaganda, as reported by Variety.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew said at a 2023 congressional hearing that TikTok has never shared, or even been requested to share, US user data with China, nor would it honor such a request. TikTok furthermore highlights that around 60% of ByteDance Ltd is owned by global institutional investors, 20% by ByteDance employees around the world, and finally, the remaining 20% is owned by the company’s Chinese founder.

Although bipartisan, the bill has not escaped criticism.

“We’re deeply disappointed that our leaders are once again attempting to trade our First Amendment rights for cheap political points during an election year,” says Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in a press release issued by the union. ACLU argues that a TikTok-ban would negatively impact free speech as “millions of Americans rely on the app every day for information, communication, advocacy, and entertainment.”

The US House of Representatives will fast-track a vote on the topic this week, Reuters reports.

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