US House passes bill forcing ByteDance to divest from TikTok under threat of ban News
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US House passes bill forcing ByteDance to divest from TikTok under threat of ban

The US House of Representatives voted 360–58 Saturday to pass a sanctions bill that includes a provision forcing Chinese company ByteDance to divest from popular social media app TikTok, which would be banned in the US if ByteDance does not comply.

The bill, formally entitled the “21st Century Peace through Strength Act,” designates TikTok as a “foreign adversary controlled application.” The bill bans these apps, defined as apps that are controlled by foreign adversaries and pose a national security threat to the US, unless the owner of such an app divests from it within 270 days, subject to extension.

Proponents of the would-be ban voice concerns over the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) alleged influence over the app and potential CCP surveillance of Americans via the app. The ban’s opponents, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), cited “antitrust and privacy questions” created by the bill as well as free speech concerns.

The House previously passed a similar bill in March, but the bill stalled in the US Senate, prompting the House to append the TikTok ban to a bill sanctioning Russia and Iran.

The sanctions bill will now head to the Senate in a second attempt to pass a House-initiated TikTok ban through that chamber. US President Joe Biden has indicated that he would sign a TikTok divestment bill into law if the legislation passes.

Montana previously passed its own TikTok ban in May, but a federal judge temporarily blocked the ban in December over concerns that the bill violates users’ and businesses’ free speech rights under the First Amendment.