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Houses approve TikTok ban bill that is on fast track

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Houses approve TikTok ban bill that is on fast track

The TikTok ban is back on the table after the House on Saturday passed a new bill addressing the issues that stalled it in the Senate.

The bill would allow the Biden administration to ban TikTok nationwide if it does not ditch its China-based owner, Bytedance, within a year. It is different from a similar bill passed in the House last month and gives TikTok an additional six months to find a US buyer. The previous bill stalled in the Senate after Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell raised several issues, including the short timeline for divestment.

It passed easily, with a vote of 360 to 58 votes.

“This app is a spy balloon on Americans’ phones,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said in introducing the bill in the House on Saturday. “It is a modern-day Trojan horse… used to monitor and exploit US personal information.”

TikTok’s reaction had bipartisan support. “National security experts are sounding the alarm, warning that our foreign adversaries are using every tool at their disposal, including apps like TikTok, to amass vast amounts of sensitive data on all Americans,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, Democrat from New Jersey. “This bill takes decisive steps to mitigate our adversaries’ ability to collect Americans’ data and use it against us.”

Digital liberties groups have opposed the TikTok ban over First Amendment concerns and because they believe getting rid of TikTok does not address the underlying problem of widespread data collection. “The only solution to this pervasive ecosystem is to ban the collection of our data in the first place,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group, wrote in a mail last month. “Ultimately, foreign adversaries will still be able to obtain our data from social media companies unless those companies are prohibited from collecting, preserving and selling it, period.”

Even X owner Elon Musk spoke out against the ban. “In my opinion, TikTok should not be banned in the United States, even though such a ban may benefit platform X,” he posted on Friday. “Doing so would be contrary to freedom of expression. “It’s not what America stands for.”

In any case, divestment or ban now seems almost certain. This new measure It had been added to a multibillion-dollar foreign aid package aimed at Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. After Iran’s retaliatory attack on Israel last week, this aid has been accelerated, which would make it more difficult for the Senate to prevent its approval.

Cantwell endorsed this latest package, saying in a statement Wednesday: “I am very happy that Speaker Johnson and House leaders have incorporated my recommendation to extend Byte Dance’s divestment period from six months to one year. As I said, the divestiture period needs to be extended to ensure there is enough time for a new buyer to close a deal. “I support this updated legislation.”

For several years, Congress has tried, unsuccessfully, to force a sale of TikTok. Republicans and Democrats fear that the app poses a risk to US national security as it provides the Chinese government with large amounts of US user data. But Congress has provided little evidence to support these claims, and TikTok and its supporters argue that banning the app would violate the right to free speech.

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