US government passes bill to ban TikTok

By Austyn King | Published: 14-Mar-2024

The bill would force the social media giant’s Chinese owner ByteDance to sell the platform or be blocked from its 150 million users

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that could see TikTok banned in the country.

If signed into law, the bill would give TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance six months to sell its controlling stake, or the app will be blocked in the US.

However, to take effect the bill must still be passed by the US Senate and signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Concerns have long been mounting about the app’s data privacy issues, as Chinese companies are legally required to share data with the country’s government if requested to do so.

Although TikTok said that it has taken steps to protect the data of its 150 million US users, data is allegedly still being unofficially shared between TikTok in the US and ByteDance in China, according to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal in January.

Republican politician Mike Gallagher, who co-authored the bill, said the US could not "take the risk of having a dominant news platform in America controlled or owned by a company that is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party". 

Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, leaders of the Senate intelligence committee, added that TikTok posed a “national security threat” as a “platform with enormous power to influence and divide Americans" in a joint statement.

TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew said the vote was “disappointing” and that the company would do “all we can” to protect the platform including legal action, in a video posted to TikTok and X (formerly Twitter).

He warned that a potential ban would take “billions of dollars out of the pockets of creators and small businesses” and “put more than 300,000 American jobs at risk”.

This is not the first time the video sharing app, which has become a key marketing tool for the beauty industry, has faced controversy.

TikTok was hit by a £12.7m fine by the UK’s data watchdog in April 2023 for allegedly failing to protect the privacy of children.

Government officials across countries including the US and UK have also been banned from having TikTok on government-issued phones due to security concerns.

The app has also run afoul of music copyright laws, with US beauty brand Ofra Cosmetics hit with a US$49m lawsuit from Sony Music over unauthorised use of songs from artists including Doja Cat, Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey in its content. 

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