Home Tech Congress passed a bill on TikTok. Will the US really ban the app?

Congress passed a bill on TikTok. Will the US really ban the app?

0 comment
'I'm a Singaporean': US senator repeatedly questions TikTok CEO over ties to China – video

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require TikTok owner ByteDance to sell the social media platform or face an outright ban in the United States. The Senate approved it less than a week later. Joe Biden signed it a day after the Senate voted in favor.

TikTok is facing its biggest existential threat yet in the United States. The app was banned in Montana last year, but courts ruled that ban unconstitutional and it never took effect.

Here’s what you need to know about the bill, the likelihood of TikTok being banned, and what that means for the platform’s 170 million US users.

technology/2024/mar/13/house-passes-tiktok-bill-ban"},"ajaxUrl":"https://api.nextgen.guardianapps.co.uk","format":{"display":0,"theme":0,"design":7}}" config="{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false}"/>

Is the US really trying to ban TikTok and why?

The bill passed in the House on Wednesday is the latest salvo in an ongoing political battle over the platform, whose popularity exploded after its emergence in 2017. Quickly overcome Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube in downloads in 2018 and reported a 45% increase in monthly active users between July 2020 and July 2022.

The platform’s meteoric rise has alarmed some lawmakers, who believe TikTok’s China-based parent company could collect sensitive user data and censor content that goes against the Chinese government.

TikTok has repeatedly stated that it has not and will not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government, but lawmakers’ concerns were exacerbated by news investigations that showed China-based ByteDance employees had accessed non-public data about American TikTok users.

TikTok has argued that US users’ data is not stored in China but in Singapore and the United States, where it is routed through a cloud infrastructure operated by Oracle, a US company. In 2023, TikTok opened a data center in Ireland where do you drive Data of EU citizens.

These measures have not been enough for many US lawmakers, and in March 2023 TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was called before Congress, where he faced more than five hours of intense questioning about these and other practices. Lawmakers questioned Chew about his own nationality, accusing him of loyalty to China. In fact, he is Singaporean.

Several efforts to police TikTok and how it interacts with American users’ data were introduced in Congress last year, culminating in the bill passed Wednesday.

‘I’m a Singaporean’: US senator repeatedly questions TikTok CEO over ties to China – video

Is this bill really a TikTok ban?

Under the new bill, ByteDance would have 165 days to divest from TikTok, meaning it would have to sell the social media platform to a company not based in China. If it didn’t, app stores, including the Apple App Store and Google Play, would be legally prohibited from hosting TikTok or providing web hosting services to apps controlled by ByteDance.

The bill’s authors have argued that it does not constitute a ban, as it gives ByteDance the opportunity to sell TikTok and avoid being blocked in the United States.

“TikTok could still exist and people could do whatever they want as long as there is that separation,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, Republican chairman of the House China select committee. “It’s not a ban; think of it as surgery designed to remove the tumor and thus save the patient in the process.”

TikTok has argued otherwise, stating that it is unclear whether China would approve a sale or whether it could even complete it within six months.

“This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a complete ban on TikTok in the United States,” the company said after the committee vote. “The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their constitutional right to free speech. “This will hurt millions of businesses, deny audiences to artists, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”

How do we get here?

TikTok has faced a series of bans and attempted bans in recent years, starting with an executive order from Donald Trump in 2020, which was ultimately blocked by the courts on First Amendment grounds. Trump has since invested his stance, now opposing the TikTok ban. Joe Biden, on the other hand, has said that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Montana attempted to impose a statewide ban on the app in 2023, but a federal judge struck down the law for First Amendment violations. The app was banned on government phones in the US in 2022, and as of 2023, at least 34 other states have banned TikTok on government devices. At least 50 universities in the US have also banned TikTok on campus Wi-Fi and university-owned computers.

In March 2023, the Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) demanded ByteDance sell its TikTok shares or face the possibility of the app being banned, Reuters reported, but no action has been taken. extent.

TikTok was banned in India in 2020 after a wave of dangerous “challenges” led to the deaths of some users. The ban had a marked effect on competition in India, handing a significant market to YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, direct competitors of TikTok. The app is not available in China itself, where Douyin, a separate app from parent company ByteDance with stronger moderation, is widely used.

Pelosi makes strange reference to tic-tac-toe during speech on TikTok – video

How would the TikTok ban be enforced?

Due to the decentralized nature of the Internet, enforcing a ban would be complex. The House-passed bill would penalize app stores daily for making TikTok available for download, but for users who already have the app on their phones, it would be difficult to stop individual use.

Internet service providers may also be forced to block IP addresses associated with TikTok, but such practices can be easily circumvented in computer browsers by using a VPN, or virtual private network, which redirects computer connections. to other locations.

To completely limit access to TikTok, the US government would have to employ methods used by countries like Iran and China, which structure their Internet in a way that makes content restrictions easier to enforce.

Who supports the possible TikTok ban?

While Trump, who launched the war on TikTok in 2020, has reversed his stance on the potential ban, most Republican lawmakers have expressed support. The Biden administration also endorsed the bill, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying the administration wants to “see this bill pass so it can get to the president’s desk.” The Biden campaign joined TikTok last month.

Despite Trump’s opposition to the bill, many Republicans are entrepreneur move forward with the effort to ban TikTok or force its sale to an American company.

“Well, you’re wrong. And by the way, she had her own executive orders and his own actions that he was doing, and now … he suddenly changed his mind on that,” said Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas and a member of the far-right group Freedom. “I mean, it’s not the first or the last time that I will disagree with the former president. The TikTok problem is quite simple.”

Who opposes the TikTok bill?

TikTok has openly opposed the legislation and urged the Senate not to pass it. “We are hopeful that the Senate will consider the facts, listen to its constituents and realize the impact on the economy, on the 7 million small businesses and on the 170 million Americans who use our service,” said spokesman Alex Haurek. of TikTok, after Wednesday’s conference. vote.

Inside the House, 50 Democrats and 15 Republicans voted against the bill, including Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who cited her experiences being banned from social media. House Democrats, including Maxwell Frost of Florida and Delia Ramirez of Illinois United TikTok creators outside the Capitol after the vote to express their opposition to the bill.

TikTok devotees Mona Swain, center, and her sister, Rachel Swain, both of Atlanta, at the Capitol in Washington DC on March 13, 2024. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Some Senate Democrats have already publicly opposed the bill, citing concerns about free speech, and have suggested measures that would address concerns about foreign influence on social media without specifically targeting TikTok. “We need restrictions on social media, but we need those restrictions to apply across the board,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a neutral statement on next steps in the Senate, stating that he “will review the legislation when it comes from the House.”

Free speech and civil rights groups have vehemently opposed the ban, saying such legislation could have a profound impact on the Internet as a whole. They have argued that TikTok’s data practices, while problematic, are not substantially different from those of US-based tech companies.

“TikTok isn’t perfect, but banning it is the wrong solution,” said Jenna Ruddock, a policy adviser at the media advocacy group Free Press. “Like all popular platforms, including those owned by Meta and Google, TikTok collects too much data about its users. But unilaterally dismantling spaces for free expression limits people’s access to information and cuts off avenues for creators to build community.”

What will happen to TikTok next?

The bill still faces an uphill battle to become law. While Biden has confirmed that he will sign it, a vote must still pass in the Senate. It’s unclear when that vote would take place, but TikTok is likely to increase its lobbying efforts in Congress as it moves forward, and CEO Shou Zi Chew will address Congress on Wednesday to speak to senators.

Even if the bill passes, it would likely face similar challenges on free speech grounds that prevented similar laws (such as Trump’s 2020 ban and Montana’s 2023 ban) from advancing.

You may also like