China Committee Leaders Propose Bill Mandating ByteDance Divestment from TikTok or Face U.S. Ban

A bipartisan effort led by the China Select Committee has introduced a bill compelling Chinese state-affiliated company ByteDance to sell its shares of TikTok.

The proposed legislation, named the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, specifically designates ByteDance and TikTok as foreign adversary-controlled applications.

Chairman Mike Gallagher and top Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi emphasize the necessity for ByteDance to divest from TikTok within five months or face a U.S. ban.

Expanded Presidential Powers and Targeted Affiliations

The bill not only targets ByteDance but also broadens the president’s powers to ban other foreign adversary-controlled applications. The specified countries include China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

ByteDance is given a grace period of over five months after the bill’s enactment to comply with the divestment requirement. Failure to do so would result in app stores and web hosting platforms being prohibited from distributing TikTok in the United States.

Support and Swift Action

With at least 17 co-sponsors from both parties, the bill demonstrates bipartisan support, increasing its chances of becoming law if brought to a vote.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to mark up the legislation promptly, indicating swift action on the proposed bill.

However, the potential ban of a widely popular social media platform like TikTok, especially in an election year, could present challenges, considering its extensive user base of around 103 million individuals in the U.S.

Lawmakers’ Statements and National Security Concerns

Chairman Mike Gallagher asserts a clear message to TikTok, urging the platform to sever ties with the Chinese Communist Party or face losing access to American users.

He emphasizes that a media platform with ties to America’s foremost adversary should not control a dominant position in the United States.

Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi echoes concerns about national security, stating that as long as TikTok remains under ByteDance’s ownership, posing threats to national security persists.

Previous Legislative Attempts and White House Engagement

Last year, a group of Republicans attempted to outright ban TikTok, but Democrats argued against the rushed effort, citing potential infringements on free speech rights.

Senators have introduced various bills to ban or restrict the platform, but none gained sufficient traction for a vote.

Congress had previously passed legislation to ban TikTok on government phones. Despite previous attempts, former President Donald Trump’s 2020 effort to ban TikTok faced legal challenges.

Continued Scrutiny and Global Influence

The proposed legislation follows previous attempts to address national security concerns related to foreign-based technologies, particularly those originating from China.

While ByteDance has faced scrutiny, TikTok continues to maintain global influence, with even President Biden’s re-election campaign joining the platform last month.

The legislation signals ongoing efforts to regulate and address potential threats posed by foreign-controlled applications in the United States.

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