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22 May, 2024
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USA: House votes on bill to ban TikTok over national security worries

Lawmakers target Chinese-owned app, citing alleged threats to data security and national interests

Source: AP

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday aiming to initiate a nationwide ban on the widely popular video app TikTok, unless its China-based owner sells the platform. The bill, passed by a vote of 352-65, will now move to the Senate for further consideration.

Lawmakers have raised concerns about TikTok's current ownership structure, arguing that it poses a national security threat. The app, with over 150 million American users, is owned by the Chinese technology firm ByteDance Ltd. Critics fear that ByteDance's ties to the Chinese government could lead to the exploitation of user data for intelligence purposes.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers emphasized that TikTok faces a choice between separating from its parent company, ByteDance, or facing consequences for its allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party. President Joe Biden has indicated his willingness to sign the bill into law if it passes in Congress.

The legislation marks a significant development in the ongoing debate between lawmakers and the tech industry, particularly in addressing concerns over data privacy and national security. However, opposition to the bill was bipartisan, with some lawmakers cautioning against the potential impact of a ban on millions of TikTok users in the U.S.

Ahead of the House vote, a top national security official in the Biden administration briefed lawmakers on TikTok and its implications for national security. Lawmakers emphasized the importance of balancing security concerns with preserving free speech online.

TikTok has consistently denied allegations that it could be exploited by the Chinese government, stating that it has never shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities. However, lawmakers remain unconvinced, with some calling for decisive action to address what they perceive as a national security threat.

The bill's passage in the House reflects a growing bipartisan consensus on confronting China-related issues. Republican leaders have pushed for swift action on the legislation, despite opposition from former President Donald Trump, who has expressed concerns about the ban benefiting rival social media platforms.

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