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US House passes TikTok bill: Could app be banned in the US?

US politicians have privacy and security concerns
US politicians have privacy and security concerns Copyright Damian Dovarganes/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Damian Dovarganes/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved
By Indrabati Lahiri
Published on Updated
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The US House of Representatives has cited data privacy and security concerns as some of the reasons behind this bill.

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The US House of Representatives has just passed a milestone legislation which could potentially see popular social media application TikTok banned in the US. 

The bill, called the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act was first introduced on 5 March and passed with a massive 352-65 vote, while one member voted present.

Fifteen Republicans and 50 Democrats voted against the bill.  

The bill requires Chinese tech company ByteDance to divest TikTok within the next six months. Failing that, the app could possibly be banned across the US.

The bill will now move on to the Senate, where it is unclear whether it is likely to be passed, as senators seem to have differing opinions. The failure of previous state and federal efforts to ban the social media app is also quite daunting.

Why is the US House cracking down on TikTok?

The main reason for this bill seems to be a privacy and security concern about the Chinese government accessing US consumer data through TikTok and other Chinese companies.

According to the House: "Laws in China allow the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) to compel companies like TikTok to share data with them, whether the companies want to or not. This means that the CCP has the ability with TikTok to compromise device security, maliciously access Americans' data, promote pro-communist propaganda and undermine our nation's interest. This is extremely troubling."

However, the passing of this bill is also expected to face a severe backlash, especially from the young generation in the US, as well as from thousands of TikTok creators and businesses, who may rely on the app for a livelihood.

Commenting on the bill, the company said in a statement on social media application X (formerly Twitter): "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 realise the impact on the economy, seven million small businesses, and the 170 million Americans who use our service."

Former President Donald Trump, who formerly supported this ban, has also now voiced concerns about this bill. According to him, TikTok's ban in the US could mean an even bigger opportunity for Facebook to keep growing, which he sees as more of a risk for the general public.

In the past, TikTok has been heavily criticised as posing a significant risk to young people. Amnesty International has highlighted concerns about the app worsening the mental health crisis amongst the younger generation by promoting access to depressive and suicidal content. Earlier concerns about data privacy have also been raised.

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