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Congress Moves One Step Closer to Banning TikTok

Congress Moves One Step Closer to Banning TikTok

In a move that’s sure to ruffle the feathers of TikTok users nationwide, the U.S. House of Representatives has advanced legislation aimed at making it easier for President Joe Biden to ban TikTok and other “China-related economic activity.”

The legislation, known as the Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act, would empower the Biden administration to impose a nationwide TikTok ban under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The bill’s text specifically names TikTok and its parent company ByteDance, and requires President Joe Biden to impose penalties against the companies, up to and including a ban, if the administration determines they may have knowingly transferred TikTok’s user data to “any foreign person” working for or under the influence of the Chinese government.

The legislation reflects lawmakers’ fears that TikTok could be pressured by the Chinese government to hand over the personal information of its American users, potentially facilitating targeted misinformation campaigns or providing China with intelligence targets.

“How can we ban TikTok among ourselves and not ban it for our children? That is the moral question of today and of our time,” said Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. “TikTok is a modern-day Trojan horse of the [Chinese Communist Party] used to surveil and exploit Americans’ personal information… In other words, it’s a spy balloon in your phone.”

However, critics argue that the proposal is unconstitutionally too broad and threatens a wide range of online speech. Critics believe its broad scope would unintentionally affect U.S. and European businesses, and could harm Taiwanese and Korean chipmakers at a time when the U.S. government is trying to entice those same companies to build chip manufacturing plants in the United States.

Despite vocal objections from some lawmakers and civil liberties advocates, the bill was approved 24-16 along party lines.

TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter called the legislation a “considerable negative impact on the free speech rights of millions of Americans who use and love TikTok,” and urged the Biden administration to finalize a proposed national security deal that has been in the works for years and is designed to address those concerns.

This is the latest battle in a years-long struggle of TikTok vs. the U.S. However, while lawmakers have fought to put restrictions on the app in the U.S., TikTok continues to grow in popularity. Last year, TikTok was by far the No. 1 downloaded app in the country, and nearly one out of every two Americans (41 percent) said they used the app within the last year.

If lawmakers and the Biden administration does move forward with a ban, they’re bound to have a lot of angry constituents.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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