Washington — A renewed push concentrating on TikTok is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, the place a number of earlier efforts to ban the extensively well-liked video-sharing app over issues about its father or mother firm’s ties to China have stalled previously.

Owned by the China-based firm ByteDance, TikTok is without doubt one of the most generally used apps within the U.S., with greater than 150 million month-to-month customers. Its meteoric rise over the previous a number of years has been accompanied by warnings from nationwide safety officers and lawmakers that China’s communist authorities may acquire entry to its huge trove of information and use that info to spy on Individuals.

Whereas earlier proposals to ban the app have largely stalled or run into authorized points, the newest push appears to be gaining steam amongst lawmakers and within the White Home. This is what to know concerning the new laws:

What’s the new TikTok invoice, and what wouldn’t it do?

The 12-page invoice, generally known as the Defending Individuals from International Adversary Managed Functions Act, goals to “shield the nationwide safety of the USA from the menace posed by international adversary managed functions” like TikTok.

If handed and signed into regulation, it will make it unlawful to distribute apps developed by ByteDance, its subsidiaries and different corporations “managed by a international adversary,” except the corporate offloads the app inside 180 days.

In impact, the invoice would give ByteDance a alternative: both promote TikTok earlier than the six-month deadline, or retain management and be banned from U.S. app shops and web-hosting providers.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican who leads the Home Choose Committee on the Chinese language Communist Occasion, mentioned Wednesday that the brand new invoice would alleviate nationwide safety issues whereas defending Individuals’ free speech rights.

Rep. Mike Gallagher and lawmakers converse concerning the Defending Individuals from International Adversary Managed Functions Act on the U.S. Capitol on March 6, 2024.

Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)(Sipa by way of AP Pictures)


“In the event you worth your private freedom and privateness on-line, in case you care about Individuals’ nationwide safety at dwelling, and sure, even in order for you TikTok to stay round in the USA, this invoice gives the one actual step towards every of these targets,” mentioned Gallagher, who launched the invoice with Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the highest Democrat on the China committee.

Gallagher mentioned it “gives the one path for the app to proceed its operations in the USA with out threatening Individuals’ on-line freedom, privateness and safety.” 

Why does Congress wish to ban TikTok?

Lawmakers from each events have repeatedly expressed issues that TikTok could possibly be pressured at hand over the info it collects on hundreds of thousands of American customers to the Chinese language authorities, which may in flip use it for espionage functions. They’ve additionally warned that the app could possibly be used to unfold propaganda and misinformation. 

“America’s foremost adversary has no enterprise controlling a dominant media platform in the USA. TikTok’s time in the USA is over except it ends its relationship with CCP-controlled ByteDance,” Gallagher mentioned in an announcement asserting the laws, referring to the Chinese language Communist Occasion.

TikTok has denied that it shares info with the Chinese language authorities, although its CEO acknowledged to Congress final yr that TikTok had collected location information on U.S. customers previously, and mentioned some historic information was nonetheless saved in servers that could possibly be accessed by engineers from ByteDance. U.S. officers have mentioned that Chinese language regulation requires the corporate, which relies in Beijing, to make the app’s information out there to the CCP.


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Then-President Donald Trump signed an government order in 2020 that will have blocked the app within the U.S. ByteDance reached an settlement with Oracle and Walmart to type a U.S.-based firm to evade the ban, however these plans, and Trump’s order, have been placed on maintain throughout an ensuing authorized battle. Shortly after President Biden took workplace in 2021, he revoked Trump’s government order so his administration may conduct its personal safety evaluation.

The renewed push by lawmakers to drive ByteDance to promote has attracted a variety of cosponsors throughout the political spectrum.

GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the chair of the Home Republican Convention, mentioned that the app is “Communist Chinese language malware that’s poisoning the minds of our subsequent technology and giving the CCP unfettered entry to troves of Individuals’ information.”

Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts mentioned that “[e]nsuring that international adversaries don’t have the power to manage what we see and listen to on-line is a vital piece of what needs to be a bipartisan effort to make social media safer for all Individuals.”

Is TikTok going to be banned?

It is too quickly to say. The invoice would nonetheless have to move each the Home and the Senate, and be signed into regulation by the president. If it does turn out to be regulation, ByteDance would have six months to promote earlier than any ban would take impact.

Lawmakers who assist the laws say they do not think about it to be a ban on TikTok, because it may proceed to function within the U.S. if ByteDance divests. Krishnamoorthi mentioned the invoice presents “a alternative for ByteDance.”

“We implore ByteDance to promote TikTok,” he mentioned on the information convention unveiling the invoice. 

The White Home shared an identical sentiment on Wednesday. Administration officers gave lawmakers technical assist to craft the invoice.

“We do not see this as banning these apps. That is not what that is,” White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre informed reporters, saying the invoice would guarantee “possession is not within the fingers of those that might do us hurt or hurt. That is about our nationwide safety, clearly.”

Jean-Pierre additionally instructed the laws might not but stand as much as authorized scrutiny, however that the president is open to finally supporting it. 

“As soon as it will get to a spot the place we predict … it is on authorized standing, and it is in a spot the place it may possibly get out of Congress, then the president would signal it. However, we have to proceed to work on it,” she mentioned. 

The app is already prohibited on federal authorities units. In 2022, Congress banned the app from being downloaded on authorities units. The U.S. navy prohibited it years earlier. 

Dozens of states have additionally banned the platform on government-issued units, main numerous public universities to limit entry to TikTok on campus to adjust to these legal guidelines. Montana grew to become the primary state to move an outright ban in Might, however a federal decide briefly blocked the regulation from taking impact in January, saying it was unconstitutional.

What’s TikTok saying concerning the invoice?

The message that appeared for some TikTok customers on Thursday, March 7, 2024, imploring them to contact their members of Congress.

CBS Information


A spokesperson for TikTok equated it to “an outright ban,” saying it will “trample the First Modification rights of 170 million Individuals and deprive 5 million small companies of a platform they depend on to develop and create jobs.” 

TikTok despatched an alert to customers urging them to contact their lawmakers to inform them to vote in opposition to the invoice. The app requested customers for his or her ZIP code to search for their representatives’ telephone numbers and immediate them to name.

“Cease a TikTok shutdown,” the discover mentioned. “Communicate up now — earlier than your authorities strips 170 million Individuals of their Constitutional proper to free expression. This can harm hundreds of thousands of companies, destroy the livelihoods of numerous creators throughout the nation, and deny artists an viewers.” 

Gallagher informed reporters Thursday that members’ workplaces have been getting “plenty of calls,” with their telephones ringing “off the hook.” His workplace mentioned in an announcement that the alert “misrepresents the invoice as a ‘ban’ on TikTok in a blatant stress marketing campaign to intimidate members.”

Hannah Kelley, a analysis affiliate on the Heart for a New American Safety, a Washington assume tank, mentioned the argument about whether or not or not the invoice constitutes a ban can go each methods. 

“The fact is that there’s an underlying ultimatum,” she mentioned. “You’ll be able to select to divest or not divest, however there’s going to be one thing that snaps into place primarily based in your determination.”  

What occurs subsequent?

The Home Vitality and Commerce Committee rapidly and unanimously superior the invoice on Thursday afternoon. It is unclear if it has sufficient assist proper now to move the complete Home. 

If it does, it will then head to the Senate. A bipartisan invoice generally known as the RESTRICT Act that will have given the Biden administration energy to ban the app stalled final yr within the higher chamber.

Gallagher mentioned he hopes to vote “as rapidly as doable,” and mentioned he helps “no matter essentially the most expeditious path to the ground is.” The Wisconsin Republican added that he has heard “plenty of curiosity, eagerness to introduce a companion piece of laws” within the Senate, and mentioned he hopes senators will “act swiftly.”

The invoice would doubtless face a authorized problem from ByteDance, which sued the Trump administration over its try and ban TikTok in 2020.

Kelley mentioned she would not be shocked if this invoice bumped into lots of the identical obstacles because the RESTRICT Act, which might have given Commerce Division authority to ban or prohibit know-how coming from U.S. adversaries, together with China. Critics questioned whether or not the invoice, which didn’t goal TikTok particularly, would threaten freedom of speech or broaden authorities surveillance. 

However Kelley mentioned the present laws additionally has the potential to progress additional than the RESTRICT Act as a result of “it is a bit more surgical.” 

“It is slightly extra focused in direction of TikTok,” she mentioned. “It nonetheless leaves the door open for giving the president the authority to make these designations round different firms which can be tied to different international governments. However proper now, the intent is to essentially go after the ByteDance-TikTok dynamic and make some headway there.” 

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