In what would be the most extensive American restriction on any social media app, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee agreed Wednesday along party lines to grant President Joe Biden the authority to outlaw TikTok, which is owned by China.
By a vote of 24 to 16, lawmakers approved the legislation giving the administration new authority to outlaw the ByteDance-owned app and other security-risky apps. Around 100 million Americans use this app.
Everyone who has the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) TikTok app downloaded on their device has provided the CCP a backdoor to all of their personal data. Their phone has a spy balloon in it.
Democrats rejected the law, claiming that it needed more time for deliberation and expert input and that it was rushed. The law provides Biden the authority to prohibit any transactions with TikTok, which may block anyone in the United States from accessing or downloading the app on their phones. The bill is vague about how the ban would operate, though.
Additionally, the legislation would call for Biden to enact a ban on any organization that “may” send sensitive personal data to a body under Chinese influence.
Because of concerns that user data might get into the hands of the Chinese government and jeopardize Western security interests, TikTok has come under growing pressure in recent weeks.
Last Monday, the White House told federal agencies 30 days to make sure that TikTok is not installed on any equipment or systems used by the government. TikTok has also been prohibited from being downloaded onto state-owned devices by more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, and European Union policy agencies.
The latest proposal still has a long way to go before it can become law, and its future is uncertain. Before the bill can be sent to Biden, the entire House and the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate must approve it.
A TikTok representative said after the vote that a ban would prevent the export of American culture and values to the billion users of the app globally.
The Biden administration remained silent on whether or not it supported moving forward with the bill, as well as whether it thought Biden now has the legal authority to outlaw TikTok.
“TikTok poses a challenge and an issue – and so we have concerns about it as it relates to the data of Americans,” White House spokesman Karine Jean-Pierre said.
INTENTION TO BAN
The committee’s leading Democrat, Representative Gregory Meeks, stated that he vehemently opposed the legislation but recognised the issues with TikTok.
Meeks said that “the Republican tendency to outlaw anything it fears, from books to speech, appears unrestrained,” and that the bill would compel the government to penalize TikTok and other affiliates of TikTok’s parent firm.
Because of concerns that user data might be given to China’s government, the strong national security group known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) unanimously recommended in 2020 that ByteDance divest TikTok.
Data security measures have been under discussion between TikTok and CFIUS for more than two years. TikTok denied claims of espionage and claimed to have invested more than $1.5 billion in strict data security measures. Meeks wants the discussions to go on.
Meeks said that the bill’s “dangerously” wide limitations on data transfers to China would necessitate U.S. sanctions against Korean and Taiwanese firms that provide Chinese firms with semiconductor chips and other equipment.
ACL urged lawmakers to reject the proposal, describing it as “a major breach of our First Amendment rights.”
Following the vote, McCaul told Reuters that he anticipates the House to vote on the bill this month.
After meeting with senators on Capitol Hill last month, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23.