U.S. Government Again Demands ByteDance to Sell TikTok, Threatens Blocking

U.S. Proposes Legislation to Force ByteDance to Divest TikTok or Face Ban

U.S. lawmakers have proposed a bill, which, if passed, will require internet technology company ByteDance to sell the popular short video application, TikTok within six months. Failure to comply could result in a ban on the app in the U.S., citing national security risks the latter reportedly poses due its Chinese ownership, as reported by Reuters.

Previous Attempts to Block TikTok in the U.S.

The bill is the first major move by U.S. authorities in nearly a year. Previous attempts by senators to block TikTok had been stalled in Congress due to lobbying efforts by pro-platform forces. One of the authors of the bill and the head of the Committee on China in the House of Representatives, Mike Gallagher stated, “Here’s my message to TikTok: sever ties with the Communist Party of China or lose access to American users. America’s main adversary has no right to control a dominant social media platform in the United States.”

Details of the Proposed Bill

If passed, the bill will give ByteDance 165 days to sell TikTok, an app that is utilized by over 170 million Americans. If not sold within the designated period, Apple, Google, and other app stores would be prohibited from offering TikTok or providing web-hosting services to apps controlled by ByteDance. However, the proposed legislation does not prescribe any measures against the platform’s users.

A representative from ByteDance refuted the bill, stating, “This bill is a direct ban on TikTok, however its authors may try to disguise it. It tramples on the rights of 170 million Americans guaranteed by the First Amendment and deprives 5 million businesses of a platform they rely on for growth and job creation.”

Discussions around the future of TikTok under ByteDance's ownership

White House Response

The White House’s National Security Council described the bill as “an important and long-awaited step,” further indicating that the President’s administration will work jointly with Congress to strengthen the legislations and ensure its solid legal basis. Interestingly, a re-election campaign for the incumbent U.S. President was launched on TikTok in February.

Provisions of the Proposed Legislation

The bill authorizes the President to identify apps that trigger concern or pose a threat to national security, giving him the power to ban or limit their operation if they refuse to transfer ownership. It applies to platforms with over a million active users per year if they are owned by hostile entities.

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