US Moves to Compel TikTok Sale Amid National Security Concerns

Efforts to pressure TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, into selling the popular social media platform or facing a ban in the United States gained momentum in Congress on Thursday. The House of Representatives scheduled a vote for Saturday on the matter, signaling bipartisan support, while a key Senate Democrat voiced backing for the move.

TikTok customers on smartphone

The Republican-led House incorporated the measure into a $95 billion legislative package aimed at providing assistance to allies such as Ukraine and Israel. This legislative package represents a significant advancement in Washington’s ongoing efforts to address perceived national security risks associated with TikTok, Reuters news report said.

The proposed bill, which would mandate ByteDance to divest TikTok within a year, received crucial support from U.S. Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell. Maria Cantwell’s endorsement significantly enhances the likelihood of the measure passing into law. Previously, a House bill passed with bipartisan support but granted ByteDance a shorter six-month window to sell TikTok.

Concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, particularly given its Chinese ownership, have fueled calls for regulatory action. While TikTok asserts it has not shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities, lawmakers and the Joe Biden administration remain apprehensive about potential data vulnerabilities.

Maria Cantwell, who initially expressed reservations about the bill, praised the extended divestment period proposed in the latest legislative package negotiated by House Speaker Mike Johnson. Emphasizing the need for sufficient time for a potential buyer to finalize a deal, Maria Cantwell affirmed her support for the updated legislation.

In response, a TikTok spokesperson criticized the House’s decision, characterizing it as leveraging unrelated issues to push through regulatory measures. The company contends that restrictions on TikTok would impinge upon users’ freedom of speech, protected under the First Amendment, and adversely impact millions of American businesses reliant on the platform.

Maria Cantwell, echoing broader concerns about foreign app influence, reiterated the necessity for robust legislative measures that can withstand legal scrutiny. As Congress moves forward with its deliberations, the fate of TikTok in the U.S. hangs in the balance, with regulatory actions likely to shape the landscape of social media governance. News Desk