TikTok Is Facing Its Greatest Threat Yet

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On Wednesday, nan US House of Representatives is expected to ballot connected a measure that would unit TikTok’s owner, Bytedance, to waste disconnected nan app aliases look an outright ban.

The bill, called nan Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, was sponsored by a group of astir 2 twelve Republicans and Democrats. It was introduced past week and precocious retired of committee astatine lightning velocity by a unanimous vote. The measure would make it unlawful for apps controlled by companies based successful adversarial countries—Bytedance is located successful China—to beryllium distributed nationwide. If enacted, Bytedance would beryllium required to waste disconnected TikTok if nan institution wanted nan app to stay disposable successful nan US.

Congress has tried and grounded to prohibition TikTok complete nan past fewer years, but this is nan closest it’s gotten to making it a reality. Still, nan authorities of a prohibition person ne'er been hazier. While bills regulating US-based tech companies person mostly stalled out, this TikTok prohibition is connected its measurement to nan floor.

In January, President Joe Biden’s reelection run joined TikTok, contempt nan app’s alleged risks to nationalist security. Still, Biden has said that he’ll motion nan bill if it makes it done nan Senate. On nan different hand, erstwhile president Donald Trump is pushing lawmakers against nan measure moreover though his management tried to prohibition nan app respective times. “If you get free of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck will double their business,” Trump posted to Truth Social past week. “I don’t want Facebook, who cheated successful nan past Election, doing better. They are a existent Enemy of nan People!”

Last year, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified to nan House Energy and Commerce Committee successful his company’s first quality connected Capitol Hill. Chew was grilled connected a number of issues, including kid information and nan nationalist information risks TikTok is said to airs for American users. Shortly aft nan hearing, Virginia legislator Mark Warner introduced nan RESTRICT Act, which would person allowed nan caput of commerce to barroom overseas technologies and companies from operating successful nan US connected nationalist information grounds. Support for that measure waned complete law concerns that it would supply nan executive branch excessively overmuch authority.

The existent House Republican measure tries to debar akin law problems. Specifically, it creates a process for nan bill’s rules to use to different foreign-controlled companies, contempt its definitive naming of Bytedance. Companies would person 165 days to divest their apps earlier being removed from US app stores. In January, Chew testified for a 2nd time pinch different Big Tech CEOs, for illustration Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, for a proceeding connected kid safety.

Responding to nan bill, a TikTok spokesperson told WIRED, “This authorities has a predetermined outcome: a full prohibition of TikTok successful nan United States. The authorities is attempting to portion 170 cardinal Americans of their law correct to free expression. This will harm millions of businesses, contradict artists an audience, and destruct nan livelihoods of countless creators crossed nan country.”