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The US House Approves Legislation Requiring ByteDance to Divest TikTok to Prevent Significant Prohibitions

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with a wide majority, requiring TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to divest its U.S. assets within six months or face a ban, marking a significant threat to the app. The bill received bipartisan support, passing with a vote of 352-65, although its future in the Senate remains uncertain due to differing opinions on how to regulate foreign-owned apps with security concerns. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that the Senate would review the legislation.

The fate of TikTok, which boasts around 170 million American users, has become a prominent issue in Washington, with lawmakers inundated with calls from teenage TikTok users opposing the bill. The volume of complaints even surpassed those seeking a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. A TikTok spokesperson criticized the process, calling it secretive and accusing lawmakers of rushing through the bill.

This move reflects ongoing efforts in Washington to address national security concerns regarding China, extending from connected vehicles to advanced artificial intelligence chips to infrastructure projects like cranes at U.S. ports. Prominent figures such as No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise emphasized the bill’s importance for national security.



In response to the bill’s passage, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to meet with senators on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, several dozen TikTok users rallied outside the Capitol, expressing concerns about the bill’s potential impact on their livelihoods. The political climate appears favorable for the bill’s passage, with President Biden expressing his intention to sign it and the White House emphasizing the goal of ending Chinese ownership of TikTok.

However, uncertainties loom over the potential sale of TikTok’s U.S. assets and whether China would approve such a sale. If ByteDance fails to comply with the divestment requirement, app stores like Apple and Google would be prohibited from offering TikTok or providing web hosting services to ByteDance-controlled applications. Legal challenges are anticipated, with the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups questioning the bill’s constitutionality on free speech and other grounds.

In summary, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill targeting TikTok’s Chinese ownership, posing a significant threat to the popular app. While the bill received bipartisan support in the House, its fate in the Senate remains uncertain. The bill’s passage reflects broader concerns about national security and Chinese influence in the tech industry. Meanwhile, TikTok users and stakeholders express concerns about the potential impact on their livelihoods and legal challenges loom ahead.

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