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TikTok crackdown bill approved

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The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee has unanimously approved a bill that could lead to a ban on TikTok in the United States unless its parent company, ByteDance, divests the social media platform. The legislation, which passed with a 50-0 vote, gives ByteDance 165 days to sell TikTok. If the company fails to divest within this timeframe, app stores operated by companies like Apple and Google would be prohibited from offering TikTok for download, and web hosting services would be barred from supporting ByteDance-controlled applications.

This move represents a significant step towards addressing national security concerns related to TikTok’s Chinese ownership. Lawmakers, citing classified briefings on these concerns, argue that the app’s ties to China pose a risk to American users’ data and national security. The bill also aims to address the broader issue of U.S. citizens’ personal information being sold to foreign adversaries, with a second bill advanced to limit such activities.

ByteDance and TikTok have responded strongly against the bill, arguing that it infringes on Americans’ First Amendment rights and would harm millions of businesses and content creators who rely on the platform. TikTok has also attempted to mobilize its user base against the bill, with some users receiving notifications urging them to contact their representatives in Congress.

Despite these efforts, the bill has garnered bipartisan support and is backed by the White House and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Its next step is a floor vote in the House of Representatives, scheduled for the following week. However, its fate in the Senate remains uncertain, as there is no companion bill, and the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee has not committed to advancing the proposal.

Critics of the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union and some Democratic representatives, argue that it could set a dangerous precedent by undermining free speech and privacy rights. They also question whether lawmakers fully understand the technology they seek to regulate. Nonetheless, proponents maintain that the legislation is necessary to protect Americans from foreign surveillance and influence, emphasizing that it targets the app’s ownership rather than its content.

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