House bill would force ByteDance to divest TikTok or face ban 

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House bill would force ByteDance to divest TikTok or face ban 

A bipartisan House bill unveiled Tuesday would force ByteDance, the China-based parent company of TikTok, to divest the shortform video app or face a ban of the platform in the U.S.

Introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the top lawmakers on the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, is the latest effort to ban TikTok over concerned about potential national security threats posed by ByteDance.

The “Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” specifically defines ByteDance and TikTok as a foreign adversary controlled application. The bill also creates a broader framework that would allow the president to designate other foreign adversary controlled applications. 

Foreign adversaries under the scope of the bill include China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.  

The bill would give ByteDance more than five months after the law would goes into effect to divest TikTok. If the company does not divest from TikTok, it would become illegal to distribute it through an app store or web hosting platform in the U.S., effectively banning it even among current users.  

The bill has more than a dozen bipartisan co-sponsors, with an even split down party lines, according to a committee aide. The aide declined to share the names of specific sponsors. 

A TikTok spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has previously pushed back on allegations of national security concerns in response to prior legislative attempts to ban the app.  

A Republican-backed bill last year attempted to ban TikTok outright but faced pushback from Democrats, who said the effort was rushed and could impede on free speech rights.  

A bipartisan group of senators also introduced a bill last year did not specifically name TikTok but laid out a process that would allow the Commerce Department to identify apps that pose risks and potentially ban them. The bill failed to gain momentum even after gaining support from the White House.  

Gallager and Krishnamoorhti’s proposal seeks to avoid running into some of the concerns that emerged as roadblocks to other bills, based on the committee aides’ description.  

However, there are still political concerns with banning the app given its growing popularity with U.S. users, and practical concerns based on the loopholes users could use to gain access to TikTok even if it were effectively banned.  

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced Tuesday it will consider the bill at a Thursday markup.

“I commend Select Committee on the CCP Chair Mike Gallagher and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi for their leadership on this bipartisan bill and look forward to advancing the bill this week,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of Energy and Commerce panel, in a Tuesday statement.

Updated at 1:23 p.m.



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