Bill that could ban TikTok in the U.S. gains momentum in Congress

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WASHINGTON — Nearly a twelvemonth aft TikTok’s CEO was grilled connected Capitol Hill, House Republicans and Democrats are joining together connected authorities that would unit its genitor company, China-based ByteDance, to divest nan celebrated societal media institution aliases consequence nan U.S. banning it from app stores.

The measure is co-authored by nan bipartisan leaders of nan select committee connected nan Chinese Communist Party, Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and ranking member, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., who besides service connected nan Intelligence Committee. Both lawmakers precocious returned from a sojourn to Taiwan and nan greater Indo-Pacific region.

The White House has signaled support for nan measure while stopping short of endorsing it.

On Thursday, nan Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., plans to people up nan bipartisan measure and walk it, sending it to nan House level for a early vote. She said her committee has kept activity "in nan loop" and been intimately moving pinch nan White House connected nan bill. Administration officials person provided method assistance connected nan bill, she said.

“It’s a very narrow, targeted measure that we’ve worked very difficult to build bipartisan support,” McMorris Rodgers told reporters. “This is astir protecting Americans.”

The bill, dubbed nan Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, creates a process for nan president — done nan FBI and intelligence agencies — to place definite societal media applications nether nan power of a overseas adversary, for illustration China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, arsenic a nationalist information threat.

Once those apps are deemed a risk, they would beryllium banned from online app stores and web-hosting services unless they sever ties pinch entities nether power of nan overseas adversary wrong 180 days of nan designation. That would mean TikTok, which FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified poses a consequence to nationalist security, could look a imaginable prohibition unless genitor institution ByteDance acts quickly to divest it.

U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials are concerned that TikTok could beryllium utilized by nan Chinese authorities to entree individual information from its more than 150 cardinal users, and show them videos that could power their views connected peculiar issues, including nan upcoming statesmanlike election. Testifying earlier Congress, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has denied that nan Chinese authorities controls nan video-sharing app and pushed backmost connected suggestions China accesses U.S. personification data.

"This measure is an outright prohibition of TikTok, nary matter really overmuch nan authors effort to disguise it,” a TikTok spokesperson said successful a statement. “This authorities will trample nan First Amendment authorities of 170 cardinal Americans and deprive 5 cardinal mini businesses of a level they trust connected to turn and create jobs.”

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Gallagher based on that he and different co-sponsors are not trying to prohibition nan enormously celebrated short-video app, nor trying to quash free speech.

“It is not a ban. Think of this arsenic a room designed to region nan tumor and thereby prevention nan diligent successful nan process,” Gallagher said astatine a news conference.

“If you worth your individual state and privateness online, if you attraction astir Americans nationalist information astatine home, and yes, moreover if you want TikTok to instrumentality astir successful nan United States,” he said, “this measure offers nan only existent measurement toward each of those goals.”

The White House has signaled beardown support for nan bipartisan measurement though it's still eyeing immoderate changes. A National Security Council spokesperson said nan Biden management has worked pinch lawmakers successful some parties “to get astatine a durable legislative solution that would reside nan threat of exertion services operating successful nan United States successful a measurement that poses risks to Americans’ delicate information and our broader nationalist security. This measure is an important and invited measurement to reside that threat.”

The NSC charismatic applauded Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi’s activity connected nan rumor and said, “We look guardant to moving pinch Congress to further strengthening this authorities to put it connected nan strongest imaginable ineligible footing.”

“The President additionally urges Congress to do its portion and walk broad bipartisan privateness legislation, particularly to protect nan information of our children,” nan charismatic said.

Krishnamoorthi, nan apical Democrat connected nan China panel, was pressed Wednesday astir why nan Biden re-election run is utilizing TikTok if it’s a nationalist information threat.

“I’m not going to show him really to campaign. I don’t person a TikTok relationship connected my individual device. And it’s, you know, it’s banned connected nationalist devices present successful Congress,” Krishnamoorthi said. “I would conscionable say, look, we cognize what nan facts are. And I would conscionable inquire group to beryllium very observant and cautious successful utilizing it.”

Scott Wong

Scott Wong is simply a elder legislature newsman for NBC News.

Kyle Stewart

Kyle Stewart is an subordinate shaper covering Congress for NBC News.

Monica Alba

Monica Alba is simply a White House analogous for NBC News.

Jonathan Vanian, CNBC

contributed

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