White House Considers Bill That Could Ban TikTok

(RightWing.org) – The issue of data privacy and the possibility of personal, corporate, and government data transmission via social media applications has confronted lawmakers on Capitol Hill for over a year. On Tuesday, March 5, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) announced they were introducing a bipartisan bill, “Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act,” to fight national security threats posed by social media platforms like TikTok.

The House Picks Up Where the Senate Left Off

A year ago, a dozen senators from both sides of the aisle introduced the RESTRICT Act to identify and mitigate threats posed by foreign powers to information and communications technologies, products, and services. Aimed at the social media platform TikTok, the legislation quickly ran into First Amendment issues despite solid support from the White House.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House Select Committee focusing on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) picked up where the Senate left off last year when Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi introduced their bill in committee. While the legislation explicitly addresses ByteDance, the China-based parent company that owns TikTok, for falling under the control of the CCP, the measure would also allow the president to designate other applications controlled by foreign adversaries.

The bill defined foreign adversaries as China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. If passed, it would give ByteDance over five months after the law takes effect to divest itself of the social media platform TikTok. Failure to divest would trigger a ban, making distribution of the platform’s app illegal through an app store or web hosting platform in the US. The action would effectively ban TikTok from new and current users.

TikTok Claps Back

Speaking to The Hill on behalf of TikTok, Alex Haurek called the bill “an outright ban of TikTok.” He argued that the legislation would strip more than 170 million citizens of their First Amendment rights while depriving “5 million small businesses of a platform” they had grown to rely on for advertising and job creation. His points were very similar to those made last year, which effectively stopped the Senate measure in its tracks.

Yet, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan voiced support for both measures. Sullivan previously pointed out that by working with the White House, lawmakers could “strengthen [the administration’s] ability to address … risks posed by individual transactions, and systemic risks posed by certain [types] of transactions,” according to Reuters. Last year, he urged Congress “to act quickly to send it to the President’s desk.” On Tuesday, he told reporters he saw the measure as a step in the right direction.

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