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Updated March 8th, 2024 at 12:21 IST

US House to fast-track vote on TikTok divestment bill

TikTok users have been mobilising to oppose the measure, inundating Capitol Hill with phone calls after the app warned of a potential ban.

Reported by: Business Desk
Tik Tok
TikTok | Image:Unsplash
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ByteDance’s divestment in TikTok: The US House of Representatives is set to accelerate voting on a bill next week that would compel ByteDance, the Chinese company behind TikTok, to divest from the popular short video app within six months or risk facing a ban in the United States. This move follows the unanimous approval of the measure by the Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.

The committee's 50-0 vote signals significant momentum for the US government's efforts to address concerns about TikTok, which boasts approximately 170 million users in the country. This represents a development since former President Donald Trump's unsuccessful attempt to ban the app in 2020, which had previously stalled due to extensive lobbying efforts by the company.

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House Majority Leader Steve Scalise underlined the forthcoming vote as a means to compel TikTok to sever ties with the Chinese Communist Party. However, TikTok has staunchly defended itself, asserting that it has never shared US user data with the Chinese government and arguing that the proposed legislation effectively amounts to a ban.

The bill's proponents, including Representative Mike Gallagher and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, aim to address national security concerns associated with Chinese ownership of the app. They stress that the legislation is not intended as a ban but rather as a means to ensure separation from potentially adversarial influences.

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TikTok users have been mobilising to oppose the measure, inundating Capitol Hill with phone calls after the app warned of a potential ban. Despite concerns about the impact on free expression and potential ramifications for other Chinese-owned apps like WeChat, supporters of the bill assert that it is a necessary step to safeguard national security.

If passed, the legislation would compel ByteDance to divest from TikTok within 165 days. Failure to comply would result in app stores, including those operated by Apple and Google, being prohibited from offering TikTok or providing web hosting services to ByteDance-controlled applications.

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While the White House has expressed support for the proposal, the bill's passage may face challenges in an election year, particularly given the app's popularity and its alignment with Democratic campaigns. Nonetheless, proponents view the bill as an essential tool in addressing national security concerns posed by foreign-owned apps like TikTok.

(With Reuters inputs)

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Published March 8th, 2024 at 12:09 IST

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