House Passes Bill That Could Ban TikTok in US—What Could Happen Next?

House To Vote On Bill That Would Ban TikTok In U.S. Unless Its Chinese Owner ByteDance Sells
Participants hold signs in support of TikTok outside the U.S. Capitol Building on March 13, 2024 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The U.S. House of Representatives today (March 13) approved legislation that could ban TikTok in the U.S.—unless the app finds a way to cut ties with its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. If becoming law, the bill could affect more 170 million Americans who use the short-form video app on a daily basis to socialize, get information and earn income.

The bill passed in the House on a bipartisan 352-65 vote. It would give ByteDance about five months to divest in TikTok, or the app would not be allowed for download in app store in the U.S.

Proponents of the bill have argued that TikTok poses a national security threat because U.S. user data collected by its parent company could be accessible to the Chinese government, even though ByteDance has no disclosed government ownership. Lawmakers in support of the legislation said their goal is not to ban the app altogether, but to make sure it’s safe for Americans.

“This bill protects those families, those young people, and lets them still use the application that they enjoy. So it’s a win for families across America, and it’s a long time coming,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, said in a statement today.

“I don’t support a ban on TikTok,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York. “The legislation did not ban TikTok. It’s simply a divestiture of TikTok so that this social media platform can be owned by an American company that would protect the data and the privacy of the American consumer from the latent foreign interests, like the Chinese Communist Party.”

Meanwhile, many TikTok users in the U.S. have raised concerns that banning the app could threaten the livelihood of content creators and business owners who rely on TikTok as a distribution channel. In a highly controversial move, TikTok recently alerted users of the potential ban on the app, leading some of them to phone their representatives to urge them to vote “no” on the bill.

TikTok is not going to disappear from app stores anytime soon, as the bill has yet to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Joe Biden before it can take effect.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remained uncommitted to the bill. “The Senate will review the legislation when it comes over from the House,” the New York Democrat said in a statement after the House’s approval today.

If the bill becomes law, ByteDance could face a tough time complying with it and keeping TikTok alive. TikTok is the overseas version of ByteDance’s Chinese short-form video app, Douyin. The parent company is the world’s most expensive private company, recently valued at $268 billion. At that valuation, it would be hard for ByteDance to find an American buyer for TikTok.

House Passes Bill That Could Ban TikTok in US—What Could Happen Next?

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