US passes bill to force ByteDance to divest TikTok or face ban

As the US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would force the popular social media platform TikTok to divest from its Chinese owner, ByteDance, or get banned from America.

The lawmakers voted 352 in favour of the proposed law and 65 against, in a rare moment of bipartisan unity in politically divided Washington, news agency AFP reported.

Earlier in the day, China condemned the American move on the video app and labelled it as “an act of bullying”.

The legislation comes as a major setback for the Chinese video-sharing app, which has surged in popularity across the world.

The divestation of TikTok’s assets would require the company to sell its assets to an American company if it wants to continue its operations in the US.

The popular short video app has over 170 million users in the US.

Reacting to the development, the Chinese foreign ministry warned the US about the vote on TikTok and called it “an act of bullying”.

“Even though the US has not found evidence on how TikTok endangers its national security, it has never stopped going after TikTok,” Wang Wenbin, a Chinese government spokesperson told CNN.

“This will eventually backfire on the US itself,” he added.

Wang also accused the American authorities of “resorting to acts of bullying” given they could not withstand fair competition.

He went on to say that the American move would disrupt market operations, undermine investor confidence and sabotage the global economic order.

US officials have expressed concerns over potential data security risks posed by TikTok’s Chinese ownership. They fear that the Chinese government could access user data and exploit the platform for propaganda or misinformation purposes.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that the goal is ending Chinese ownership – not banning TikTok. “Do we want TikTok, as a platform, to be owned by an American company or owned by China? Do we want the data from TikTok — children’s data, adults’ data — to be going, to be staying here in America or going to China?”

TikTok has criticised the bill, saying that the ban would unfairly target freedom of expression for millions of Americans.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to visit Capitol Hill to engage with senators regarding the proposed legislation.

Published By:

Sushim Mukul

Published On:

Mar 13, 2024

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