US House of Representatives passes bill that compels ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban

The bill still needs approval from the U.S. Senators before it can be signed into law.

Seri Mazliana | March 14, 2024, 11:31 AM



The United States (U.S.) House of Representatives passed a bill on Mar. 13 (Singapore time) giving short-form video application TikTok’s parent company ByteDance about six months to divest its U.S. assets or face a nationwide ban.

According to Reuters, the bill passed 352-65.

It is considered a rare bipartisan effort in the U.S.

The bill still needs approval from the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress, the Senate, with some concerned that it may go against the Constitution by denying Americans the rights to free expression and affect businesses in the U.S., reported The Washington Post.

TikTok will "not stop advocating"

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, a Singaporean, responded to the bill via a TikTok video on Mar. 14.

He alleged that the bill, if passed, will ban Tiktok in the U.S. and also give more power to other social media platforms.

"It will also take billions of dollars out of pockets of creators and small businesses. It will put more than 300,000 American jobs at risk and it will take away your TikTok."

He said that the app has given 170 million users a "platform to freely express themselves and has empowered more than 7 million businesses in the U.S."

However, the bill states that TikTok will not be banned if ByteDance sells the app to a company not based in China, or any other countries considered "foreign adversaries" of the U.S.

Chew added that the company will not stop advocating for the app's users and will continue to do all they can, including exercising legal rights, to protect TikTok.

You can watch the full video here:

@tiktokResponse to TikTok Ban Bill♬ original sound - TikTok

App poses national security risks: House GOP majority leader

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is headquartered in Beijing. TikTok has headquarters in Singapore and Los Angeles.

It is accused of posing a threat to U.S. national security by being a spy tool for the Chinese government or influencing the political views of users in the U.S., according to The Washington Post.

During testimony before Congress, Chew assured U.S. lawmakers that TikTok's Project Texas would safeguard the data of users in the U.S.

However, investigations by Forbes and the New York Times supposedly unearthed evidence that user data of American users was still accessible by employees in China.

"This is a critical national security issue. The Senate must take this up and pass it," Steve Scalise, House Republican Majority Leader, said on X (formerly Twitter) on Mar. 13 (Singapore time).

There were previously two efforts to ban the app and allow the Department of Commerce to identify apps that pose a national security risk, but they fizzled out in 2023.

TikTok have also been banned in other countries such as India and Nepal, which also cited national security and social harmony concerns.

The company previously stated that they have never shared U.S. user data with China and also argued against claims accusing them of foreign interference or influence, reported The Washington Post.

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Top photos via Chew Shou Zi TikTok & Unsplash