TikTok bill passed by lawmakers in the US House. Is a total ban on the horizon?

A man carries a Free TikTok sign in front of the courthouse where the hush-money trial of Donald Trump got underway April 15, 2024, in New York.
A man carries a Free TikTok sign in front of the courthouse where the hush-money trial of Donald Trump got underway April 15, 2024, in New York. Copyright Ted Shaffrey/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Ted Shaffrey/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Legislation has been passed which could see TikTok banned unless the platform's China-based owner sells its stake within the year.


The US House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress, has passed a bill which could potentially lead to the nationwide ban of the popular social media platform, TikTok, citing unfounded national security concerns due to its Chinese ownership.

It demands TikTok divest from its Chinese parent company ByteDance or be shut out of the American market. The bill is expected to go to the Senate for a vote next week.

Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform X expressed his opposition to the potential ban in a post on Friday.

Musk wrote in the post that the ban goes against freedom of speech and expression.

"In my opinion, TikTok should not be banned in the USA, even though such a ban may benefit the X platform," the billionaire posted.

TikTok has repeatedly denied that it has ever shared US user data with Chinese authorities and vowed never to do so.

There are other concerns about the bill that it could give the US president the authority to designate any application as a threat to national security simply by deeming it hostile.

TikTok is not expected to go away soon

The decision by House Republicans to include TikTok as part of a larger foreign aid package, fast-tracked the ban after an earlier version had stalled in the Senate. 

A standalone bill with a shorter, six-month selling deadline passed the House in March by an overwhelming bipartisan vote as both Democrats and Republicans voiced national security concerns about ByteDance.

The modified measure, passed by a 360-58 vote, now goes to the Senate after negotiations that lengthened the sale timeline to nine months, with a possible extra three months if a sale is in progress.

Legal challenges could extend that timeline even further. ByteDance has indicated that it would likely go to court to try and block the law if it passes, arguing it would deprive the app’s millions of users of their First Amendment rights.

TikTok has lobbied hard against the legislation, pushing the app’s 170 million US users to call Congress and voice opposition. 

But the ferocity of the pushback angered lawmakers on Capitol Hill, where there is broad concern about Chinese threats to the US and where few members use the platform themselves.

"We will not stop fighting and advocating for you," TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in a video posted on the platform last month. 

"We will continue to do all we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this amazing platform that we have built with you".

Concerns over American data

The bill's quick path through Congress is extraordinary because it targets one company and because Congress has taken a hands-off approach to tech regulation for decades. 

Lawmakers have failed to act despite efforts to protect children online, safeguard users' privacy, and make companies more liable for content posted on their platforms, among other measures. 

Members of both parties, along with intelligence officials, are worried that Chinese authorities could force ByteDance to hand over American user data or direct the company to suppress or boost TikTok content favourable to its interests. 


The US government has not publicly provided evidence that shows TikTok shared US user data with the Chinese government or tinkered with the company’s popular algorithm, which influences what Americans see.

The company has good reason to think a legal challenge could be successful, having seen some success in previous legal fights over its operations in the US. 

In November, a federal judge blocked a Montana law that would ban TikTok use across the state after the company and five content creators who use the platform sued.

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