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Bill to Potentially Ban TikTok Clears House, Heads to Senate

Bill to Potentially Ban TikTok Clears House, Heads to Senate

House passes bill that may ban TikTok over security concerns; the Senate will now deliberate.

On Wednesday, the House cast their votes, with a substantial majority favoring legislation that might see TikTok banned in the U.S. This response reflects bipartisan apprehension that the China-based company’s app poses a national security risk.

The decisive 352-65 vote pushes the bill to the Senate. In this chamber, its future remains unclear, with less perceived urgency to take immediate action.

“Communist China is America’s largest geopolitical foe and is using technology to actively undermine America’s economy and security,” Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., stated post-vote. He cautioned that TikTok could tap into American data and spread “harmful” information.

“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.”

Among the naysayers were 50 Democrats and 15 Republicans, including progressives like Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Ro Khanna, D-Calif.; and Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. Conservatives like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., also voted against, recalling her own ban from social media platforms.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., surprised many with his ‘no’ vote, citing free speech concerns.

Bill to Potentially Ban TikTok Clears House, Heads to Senate
Bill to Potentially Ban TikTok Clears House, Heads to Senate

Adversaries like China “shut down newspapers, broadcast stations, and social media platforms. We do not,” Himes explained. “We trust our citizens to be worthy of their democracy. We do not trust our government to decide what information they may or may not see.”

TikTok, meanwhile, claims the legislative process was secretive, branding the move as a hasty ban, detrimental to users’ First Amendment rights and damaging to small businesses dependent on the platform.

TikTok ban
Bill to Potentially Ban TikTok Clears House, Heads to Senate

Paul Tran, a small business owner at the helm of Love and Pebble, fears the bill could be catastrophic for enterprises like his. TikTok has been a boon for his company, and a ban represents a direct threat to their success and livelihood.

“If you pass this bill,” Tran implored, “you will be destroying the American dream that we really believe in.”

As the bill advances, it places pressure on the Senate for a response. President Joe Biden is prepared to sign it into law should it pass, his spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre on Air Force One described the bill as “important.”

Not an outright ban, the bill seeks to allow the President, via the FBI and intelligence agencies, to classify foreign-controlled social media apps as national security threats.

“What we’re after is a separation from TikTok from its parent company, ByteDance, and by extension CCP,” clarified Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. He envisions a future where TikTok could continue without its current ties to China.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has rebuffed claims of Chinese government control over the app and denies U.S. data access. However, U.S. intelligence officials remain wary, suggesting the Chinese government could exploit the app to gather personal data and influence public opinion.

In response to the House vote, Wang Wenbin of the Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. for its continued suppression of TikTok without evidence of a security threat.

The bill, shaped by bipartisan effort and concern over TikTok’s actions abroad, especially in Taiwan, was influenced by conversations with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“My concern is about what TikTok has done in Taiwan, saying that the Uyghurs love their genocide and the people of Hong Kong love their voter suppression,” Pelosi disclosed.

Nonetheless, Pelosi isn’t calling for a ban but a reformation of TikTok that ensures data safety and positivity.

With this step forward, the creators and users of TikTok mobilize, hoping to prevent what they see as an unfair shutdown of their digital platform and voice.

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With an English Honors background, I've cultivated a profound passion for language and storytelling. I thrive on exploring the worlds of entertainment, travel, fashion, and celebrity culture through engaging narratives. My aim is to weave captivating tales that resonate with audiences, utilizing my knack for expression and love for creative writing.

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