In the United States, a House vote could result in the prohibition of TikTok; what's next?

In the United States, a House vote could result in the prohibition of TikTok; what’s next?

The immensely popular short-video application TikTok has not yet been prohibited in the United States. However, the House of Representatives resolution could undoubtedly result in extreme measures. What transpired, and what lies beyond the threshold?

Wednesday, the House passed a bill by an overwhelming vote that would give ByteDance, the Chinese owner of the short-video app TikTok, approximately six months to divest its US assets or face a prohibition. This represents the greatest threat to the app since the Trump administration.

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Although TikTok has previously been a target of congressional scrutiny, the current ultimatum appears to be more severe.

This is due to the fact that in the event that ByteDance refused to establish a spin-off for TikTok, the legislation would mandate app store providers to discontinue carrying the platform. This would effectively cease all operations within the United States.

The expeditious passage of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act to the House floor has also been noted by a number of commentators. Nonetheless, it is election season, and legislators warn that misinformation on TikTok could spread like wildfire.

Despite passing by a bipartisan margin of 352-65, the bill’s trajectory in the Senate remains more uncertain.

Certain senators hold a dissenting stance regarding the regulation of applications owned by foreign entities. In actuality, a solitary member’s hold on the matter could impede its expeditious deliberation on the Senate floor. Already, Senator Rand Paul, a Libertarian, has declared his readiness to undertake this course of action.

In addition, TikTok is and will continue to fight back. Shortly after the House vote, Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, published a video in which he defended the company and stated that it would exercise its legal rights in order to prevent a prohibition.


Response to TikTok Ban Bill

♬ original sound – TikTok – TikTok

In fact, the measure grants the firm 165 days from the date of its signature by President Joe Biden to file a legal challenge; he declared last week that he would do so.

Why now push?

Undoubtedly, the House measure represents merely the most recent endeavor to restrict the proliferation of TikTok within the United States. In 2020, for instance, President Donald Trump attempted to prohibit it via executive order but was unsuccessful because the attempt was halted by the courts.

In November, following a second lawsuit by the firm, a different judge stayed a Montana state prohibition on TikTok usage. Montana was the only state in the United States to attempt a nationwide prohibition on TikTok.

However, now, the bill’s House supporters assert that the Chinese ownership of TikTok “poses a grave threat to U.S. national security.” Legislators assert that the app could be utilized to manipulate public opinion in the United States or to collect user information for espionage purposes.

Everything is occurring very quickly. A week after the bill was introduced after a single public hearing with minimal discussion, and after more than a year of inaction in Congress, the vote was conducted.

In an election year, when many politicians do not wish to be perceived as mild on China, the political climate in Washington is becoming increasingly favorable to the bill. Thus, influential Democrats have also voted in favor of the measure, in addition to Republicans who are discussing the alleged threat.

What do opposing voices entail?

However, not every one of them. House Democrat Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez characterized the legislation as “extremely hurried” and expressed skepticism regarding its antitrust and privacy implications.

The measure was also opposed by Arizona Senate candidate Ruben Gallego, House Democratic Whip Kathleen Clark, and the leading Democrats on the Judiciary, Ways and Means, Transportation, and Intelligence committees.

It is uncertain what her next move will be, but Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell stated that she desires legislation “that could hold up in court” and is contemplating a distinct measure.

Even Democrats who support the bill refute the notion that an outright prohibition of TikTok is imminent, stating that the objective is to remove foreign control from the platform. Finally, alternative proposals that aim to address foreign-controlled applications in a broader sense have been put forth by others.

In an interview with CNBC, Trump appeared to have reversed his position and came out against a prospective TikTok ban. Even so, he maintained that TikTok did not pose a threat to national security, but it was an improvement over Facebook, which he referred to as “an enemy of the people.”

However, is TikTok an exception?

TikTok, which is utilized by the majority of young people and approximately 170 million Americans, is in fact owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance. It was established in 2012, and in 2016 it introduced the Chinese short-video application Douyin. The following year, TikTok, the international variant of that application, was released.

TikTok stated in a press release from the previous year that global institutional investors, including Carlyle Group, General Atlantic, and Susquehanna International Group, beneficially own approximately 60% of ByteDance.

Employees owned an additional 20% of the corporation, while founder Zhang Yiming retained the remaining shares exclusively.

Nevertheless, despite ByteDance’s consistent denials that it has ever shared user data with Beijing, the organization is obligated to provide information to government authorities.

Analysts predict that China would likely oppose the sale or divestiture of TikTok. Indeed, the legislation has faced criticism from the foreign ministry of the country, which asserts, “Despite the absence of evidence linking TikTok to any threat to U.S. national security, the United States continues to pursue TikTok.”

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Beijing appears to be quite concerned with a purportedly independent company. However, just this week, The Information reported that ByteDance has invested in a state-owned semiconductor company and has been actively fostering relations with China.

What takes place next?

TikTok will not cease operations in the United States, at least not immediately. As previously stated, Senate approval is still required before the measure can be delivered to President Biden’s desk.

ByteDance would have six months to find a vendor for TikTok prior to the ban’s implementation if the measure were to become law. Additionally, courts might have a say in the event that TikTok or ByteDance filed suit.

A spokesperson for TikTok had already expressed on Monday that the measure could violate the right to free expression of Americans. Probably for this reason, the measure could be struck down on constitutional grounds.

Additionally, advocacy organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union assert that the measure violates the Constitution on grounds of free expression and other considerations.


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