House panel approves bill that could lead to total TikTok ban in the US

Another day, another political hurdle for ByteDance-owned app TikTok.

On Wednesday (March 1) the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance a bill that would effectively give President Joe Biden powers to ban TikTok in the US.

As reported here by CNN, the bill, known as the ‘Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act’, would also allow for the control of other China-related economic activity, if signed into law.

The bill would still need to be passed by the Republican-led House and the Democrat-led Senate before it can become law.

The bill, sponsored by Republican lawmaker and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Michael McCaul, was passed with 24 Republican votes to 16 Democrat votes.

CNN quotes McCaul as saying on Tuesday that “TikTok is a modern-day Trojan horse of the [Chinese Communist Party] used to surveil and exploit Americans’ personal information… in other words, it’s a spy balloon in your phone.”

Democrat Gregory Meeks reportedly called the bill “unvetted and dangerously overbroad”, citing the impact it would have on chipmakers in Taiwan and Korea.

The passage of the bill comes just days after The White House’s Office of Management and Budget issued a 30-day deadline for the app to be deleted from Federal employees devices due to national security concerns.

On Monday (February 27), Canada also announced the banning of TikTok from all government-issued devices.

“I suspect that as government takes the significant step of telling all federal employees that they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones many Canadians from business to private individuals will reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. 

Meanwhile, last week, The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, also banned its staff from using the ByteDance-owned video app on their work phones over cyber security concerns.

The European Parliament also banned its staff from using TikTok last month.

TikTok has around 100 million users in the US.

Back in September 2020, when the prospect of a temporary US ban of TikTok from the Trump administration was becoming headline news, the app’s then-interim head (now COO), Vanessa Pappas estimated that if a US ban of TikTok was in place for six months, over 80% of its daily users would not return to the platform.

That prediction was based on TikTok’s real-life experience of being banned for a fortnight by the Indian government in 2019, according to Reuters.

“A U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide,” a TikTok spokesperson told CNN in a statement.

“We’re disappointed to see this rushed piece of legislation move forward, despite its considerable negative impact on the free speech rights of millions of Americans who use and love TikTok.”

The American Civil Liberties Union also came out in opposition of the advancement of the bill on Wednesday.

Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at ACLU, said: “We’re disappointed that the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to approve a bill that would effectively ban TikTok in the United States, in violation of Americans’ First Amendment rights. We urge legislators to vote no on this vague, overbroad, and unconstitutional bill.”Music Business Worldwide

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