US NewsTikTok on the brink: U.S. moves to ban or force sale over security fears

TikTok on the brink: U.S. moves to ban or force sale over security fears

The House of Representatives USA passed a bill on TikTok.
The House of Representatives USA passed a bill on TikTok.
Images source: © Getty Images | Celal Gunes

5:16 PM EDT, April 22, 2024

There's a strong possibility that the widely used app TikTok might face a ban in the United States. This comes after the House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation that has also received backing from President Joe Biden.

The United States House of Representatives, a key component of the U.S. Congress, voted on April 19th to prohibit TikTok in the USA. This legislative move stems from concerns regarding the security of American users' data and the fear of it being shared with Chinese authorities. President Joe Biden has expressed his intention to sign this bill into law.

TikTok's dilemma: sell or face a ban

It's important to note that the U.S. Congress is considering a bill that would compel ByteDance, the Chinese conglomerate behind TikTok, to divest its U.S. operations to a company unaffiliated with the government of the People's Republic of China. This initiative is driven by worries about the security of American data and the risk of its transfer to Chinese officials.

TikTok with a possible ban in the USA
TikTok with a possible ban in the USA© Getty Images

In mid-March, the House of Representatives passed a bill colloquially termed "Sell or Ban." Under this bill, ByteDance is required to sell TikTok within nine months, although this deadline can be extended to a year by the president. Should the company fail to meet these conditions, app stores like Google Play and the Apple App Store will have to delist TikTok from their platforms.

The House of Representatives casts its vote

The proposal to ban TikTok in the USA was voted on alongside legislation concerning the seizure of Russian assets and an assistance package for Taiwan and Indo-Pacific countries valued at $8 billion. That day, the House also approved a $60.8 billion aid package for Ukraine.

The U.S. Senate, the other chamber of Congress, is expected to approve these bills shortly. President Joe Biden has pledged to sign them into law. This sets the stage for TikTok's potential exit from the U.S. market unless it sells its stateside operations.

The case against TikTok

In March, Mike Johnson, the Republican Speaker of the House, voiced his concern, labeling "Communist China as America's foremost geopolitical adversary, accused of leveraging technology to weaken the American economy and security."

The U.S. security agencies have similarly alerted against TikTok. FBI Director Christopher Wray highlighted the app as a national security threat, noting China's blurred lines between corporate and government realms. He raised the possibility of Chinese authorities accessing sensitive American data, manipulating TikTok's recommendation algorithms for influence operations, and potentially surveilling devices with the app installed.

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