TikTok Ban in the US Getting Real: House Passes Bill Confirming the Same

On Wednesday, March 13, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill that prohibits the Chinese app TikTok from functioning in the country. With 352 votes in favor and 6 against, the TikTok ban in the US is now getting real with every passing day. The next stop of the bill is the US Senate followed by the White House where it will receive President’s signature. The bill has been titled “Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act”.

The move comes as a result of the discussions ignited by US Lawmakers about how Chinese apps should be banned because they are used by millions of US users and national security is at stake because of TikTok’s association with ByteDance.

What does this Ban mean?

According to the bill that has been passed, Chinese parent company ByteDance has been asked to divest from TikTok within 165 days or leave the country. The condition is clear, only if ByteDance agrees to sell off its interests, will it be allowed to continue operations in the US.

For TikTok to persist in the US, ByteDance has to relinquish its sought-after algorithm that is responsible for tailoring content as per the preferences of US users. The bill has prohibited app stores like Apple and Google from hosting TikTok in the US till the matter gets clear.

 India led the way in this mission of banning TikTok in the year 2020 due to similar national security concerns. The Government not only banned TikTok but also other Chinese apps as it was concerned about these apps collecting data and leading espionage activities.

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What’s next for the Bill?

As mentioned above, the bill will now move to the Senate, where its fate is still ambiguous. There is no clear corresponding legislation in the Senate with bipartisan support so it is unlikely that the bill would pass from here timely. However, it if does, President Joe Biden has already confirmed that he is ready to sign it.

The top senators in this case are confident that similar to the House, the Senate will pass the bill as well. Mark Warner & Marco Rubio have claimed that they were highly encouraged by how supportive the House has been and they will work together to get it passed through the Senate so that it becomes the law.

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TikTok/ByteDance’s stand on the matter

ByteDance claims that the Chinese Government has never demanded any data about American users on TikTok. It claims that even if the government did, the company wouldn’t share the data with them as it isn’t controlled by the Chinese government.

TikTok spokesperson gave a statement saying, “This process was secret and the bill was jammed through for one reason: it’s a ban. We are hopeful that the Senate will consider the facts, listen to their constituents, and realize the impact on the economy, 7 million small businesses, and 170 million Americans who use our service.”

TikTok claims that no matter what happens, it won’t change its strategy and will continue to believe that the best way to address these security concerns is by a transparent, US-based protection of the US user data and systems.

Effect of TikTok ban on American citizens

Thousands of small businesses in the US rely on TikTok for sales and marketing of their products. These companies are small-scale and don’t have the budget to promote their products otherwise and thus TikTok becomes an easy and free way to grow their business. Such business owners have opposed the bill as it can impact their businesses adversely.

Even if the bill does become a law, these people will find various workarounds to keep using TikTok. These include the use of VPNs to hide their location and avoid these restrictions.

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Donald Trump’s stand on the Bill

Former US President Donald Trump believes that if TikTok gets banned, Facebook and Zuckerberg will get an undue advantage and double their business. He feels Facebook cheated in the last elections and doesn’t deserve to do better. Trump went on to claim that Facebook is the true Enemy of the US People.

The fate of the bill will be decided only when it reaches the Senate soon.

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