US House passes bill to ban TikTok

WASHINGTON, D.C. (TIP): The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to ban Chinese social media app Tiktok, which is very popular among kids, in the United States.

India was the first country to ban TikTok in 2020 after it became public knowledge that the popular Chinese social media platform was being used for gathering personal data and spying on others.

Passed by the House by 352 to 65 votes, the bill now heads to the US Senate for it to be sent to the White House for the President to sign it into law. While 197 Republican lawmakers voted for the measure and 15 against, on the Democratic side, 155 voted for the bill and 50 against. The bill, “Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act”, was co-authored by Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, and Congressman Mike Gallaghe from the Republican party.

“This bill is not a ban and it is not about TikTok. It is about ByteDance…a 100 per cent owner of TikTok. ByteDance is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. In fact the editor-in-chief of ByteDance is the secretary of the Chinese Communist Party cell embedded at the very highest ranks of the company,” Krishnamoorthi said.

He said the bill ensures that ByteDance divests itself of the vast majority of the ownership at TikTok. “Our intention is for TikTok to continue to operate but not under the control of the CCP,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Former vice president Mike Pence said the passage of this legislation demonstrates that appeasement to Communist China is over, allowing TikTok to continue operating in the United States while under CCP control is simply unacceptable. “The Senate must take up this legislation as soon as possible and send it to President Biden’s desk. AAF will never falter in our commitment to confronting China at home and abroad, the American government must not falter now,” he demanded.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the overwhelming and bipartisan passage of the bill is a strong statement of the Congress’s commitment to the security of the country and privacy of the data. “Let me be clear: this legislation is not a ban on TikTok. I join my colleagues in recognising the platform’s entertainment, educational and entrepreneurial value, especially among younger people. Instead, this legislation would strengthen TikTok: keeping Americans’ data and control of the algorithm out of the hands of a foreign adversary.

“In doing so, we protect against surveillance and influence operations that are hallmarks of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” she said.

Repressed communities in China – from the Uyghurs to Tibetans to the people of Hong Kong, and others – are telling us that their stories of their suffering are being blocked or misrepresented on TikTok, Pelosi said.

“At the same time, the CCP is spreading propaganda to cover up its heinous abuses. We cannot allow Beijing to bury the truth of its abysmal record on human rights,” Pelosi said, and urged the Senate to bring companion legislation to a vote as quickly as possible.

“The Senate will review the legislation when it comes over from the House,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said CCP-controlled TikTok is an enormous threat to US national security and young Americans’ mental health. “This past week demonstrated the Chinese Communist Party is capable of mobilising the platform’s users to a range of dangerous, destabilising actions. The Senate must pass this bill and send it to the president’s desk immediately,” he said.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R Warner and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio said they are united in their concern about the national security threat posed by TikTok – a platform with enormous power to influence and divide Americans whose parent company ByteDance remains legally required to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party.

“We were encouraged by today’s strong bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, and look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law,” the two Senators said.

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