The House Passed the Bill That Could Ban TikTok—and It Wasn't Close

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This morning, nan US House of Representatives voted to fundamentally ban TikTok, unless Chinese-owned Bytedance divests from nan app entirely. If passed successful nan Senate, TikTok would person astir 6 months to untangle itself from its China-based owner.

In speeches starring up to nan ballot connected H.R. 7521, besides known arsenic nan Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, members of Congress highlighted nan galore security concerns pinch nan app, including nan imaginable for labor astatine nan Chinese institution to entree American personification data, and nan dispersed of pro-China propaganda.

In a connection released conscionable aft nan vote, Rep. Sara Jacobs, who opposed nan bill, said, “As a personnel of some nan House Armed Services and House Foreign Affairs Committees, I americium keenly alert of nan threat that PRC accusation operations tin pose, particularly arsenic they subordinate to our elections…Banning TikTok won’t protect Americans from targeted misinformation aliases misuse of their individual data, which American information brokers routinely waste and share.”

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene said she worried nan measure could beryllium utilized to unit nan waste of different societal media platforms, peculiarly mentioning X which is now owned by Elon Musk.

Last week, galore TikTok users opened nan app to spot a announcement informing them that Congress was readying to prohibition nan service, and urging them to telephone their representatives. Congressional offices were, apparently, flooded pinch calls from concerned users. This move whitethorn person backfired, demonstrating to respective members of Congress nan powerfulness nan app had to style users’ behavior. In her connection successful support of nan bill, Republican Representative Ashley Hinson asked, "What if TikTok sent retired an alert saying that elections were canceled?"

But Representative Sydney Kamlager-Dove noted that Chinese power operations are not restricted to TikTok. In November 2023, Meta announced that it had removed a monolithic Chinese power cognition from its platforms that had targeted nan US. Some smaller networks had besides targeted users successful India and Tibet.

Prominent TikTok creators mobility nan bill. “It's unclear that this measure is going to really protect Americans, but I don't deliberation that's really nan goal,” says Charlotte Palermino, nan laminitis of skincare marque Dieux, a celebrated creator connected TikTok and different platforms. “I find it to beryllium very silly, but I deliberation that it’s a bully encapsulation of American authorities today, wherever we person group that do not understand exertion trying to modulate it.”

Palermino sees TikTok Shop arsenic a valuable instrumentality for mini businesses, and says shuttering TikTok would person a antagonistic short-term effect connected Dieux. “Losing that would beryllium challenging,” she says. While she’s assured Dieux could pivot to attraction connected different platforms, she suspects a TikTok prohibition could earnestly effect different independent and up-and-coming brands wrong nan United States successful a large way. “It will wounded their business.”

The measure will now move to nan Senate. Senate Select Committee connected Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued nan pursuing connection soon aft nan House vote: “We are agreed successful our interest astir nan nationalist information threat posed by TikTok–a level pinch tremendous powerfulness to power and disagreement Americans whose genitor institution ByteDance remains legally required to do nan bidding of nan Chinese Communist Party. We were encouraged by today’s beardown bipartisan ballot successful nan House of Representatives, and look guardant to moving together to get this measure passed done nan Senate and signed into law."

This is not nan first effort to modulate TikTok, arsenic lawmakers person agelong been concerned astir nan app arsenic a imaginable information threat. Last year, Senator Mark Warner projected nan RESTRICT Act, which would person allowed nan US authorities to prohibition tech from adversary countries. The authorities of Montana approved an app ban, though it was blocked by a national judge earlier it could travel into effect.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden’s reelection run joined TikTok. Still, Biden precocious told reporters that he would sign nan House’s TikTok ban into rule if it was approved successful nan Senate.

TikTok did not instantly respond to a petition for comment.

Andrew Couts, Kate Knibbs, and Makena Kelly contributed reporting.