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House passes legislation that could ban TikTok in the U.S; sending it to the Senate

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The House on Wednesday passed legislation that could ban TikTok in the U.S., alleging that the China-based video-sharing app is a national security threat. The House fast-tracked the legislation, known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, by bringing it up under a procedure that required the support of two-thirds of members for passage.

The bipartisan vote was 352-65, with one member, Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, voting present. 197 Republicans and 155 Democrats voted to approve, while 15 Republicans and 50 Democrats voted against the bill. It now heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it faces an uncertain fate. President Joe Biden has said that if the bill reaches his desk, he will sign it into law, which would require ByteDance to sell TikTok within six months or be banned from U.S. app stores and web-hosting services.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said in a statement after the vote: “Communist China is America’s largest geopolitical foe and is using technology to actively undermine America’s economy and security. Today’s bipartisan vote demonstrates Congress’ opposition to Communist China’s attempts to spy on and manipulate Americans, and signals our resolve to deter our enemies.”

TikTok, owned by China-based parent company ByteDance, arguing that the legislation would violate the First Amendment rights of its 170 million U.S. users and harm thousands of small businesses that rely on it. The company said on X: “This process was secret and the bill was jammed through for one reason: it’s a ban. We are hopeful that the Senate will consider the facts, listen to their constituents, and realize the impact on the economy, 7 million small businesses, and the 170 million Americans who use our service.”  Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin also aid in a statement that “despite the lack of evidence proving TikTok poses a threat to US national security, the U.S. has continued to suppress TikTok. This practice of resorting to bullying tactics when unable to win in fair competition disrupts normal business operations, damages international investors’ confidence in the investment environment, and undermines the normal international economic and trade order, ultimately harming the U.S. itself.”

TikTok has repeatedly been targeted by lawmakers seeking to restrict the app over concerns that the Chinese government could force ByteDance to hand over the data of its 170 million American users. However, TikTok has long denied it could be used by the Chinese government to spy on Americans.

Editorial credit: DANIEL CONSTANTE / Shutterstock.com

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