TikTok ban passed the House in a vote of 352-65; now heads to the Senate

In a decisive move, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted in favor of banning TikTok from operating within the country. With a resounding 352-65 vote, the House approved a bill that mandates TikTok’s divestment from its Chinese ownership or risk facing a complete prohibition on its services in the United States.

However, the fate of the bill now hangs in the balance as it awaits deliberation in the Senate, where senators have expressed reservations about both the notion of a ban and the singling out of a specific platform.

This development comes swiftly after the bill’s proposal, barely a week ago, following a single public hearing characterized by minimal debate. The unanimous 50-0 vote by the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week paved the way for today’s pivotal decision before the entire House.

Central to the concerns driving this legislative action is the apprehension that TikTok, under Chinese ownership, poses significant risks regarding data privacy and national security. While the bill does not guarantee an outright ban, it exerts considerable pressure on ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to relinquish its ownership stake in the app.

In a bid to bolster support for the bill, the FBI, Justice Department, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence conducted a classified briefing for House members on Tuesday. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise emphasized the gravity of the situation, highlighting the potential threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to American families, Reuters reported.

“We’ve answered a lot of questions from members. We had a classified briefing today. So that members can see even more details about what’s at risk and how the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) can jeopardize the risk to American families,” said House Majority Leader Steve Scalise.

Meanwhile, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is slated to make a crucial appearance on Capitol Hill today, coinciding with a pre-arranged visit to engage with senators. The company, in response to the proposed legislation, has condemned it as a predetermined move towards an outright ban, arguing that it infringes upon the constitutional right to free expression of millions of Americans.

Despite the momentum behind the bill, dissenting voices persist within the legislative chambers. Representative Maxwell Frost, a prominent opponent of the legislation, foresees its passage in the House. He acknowledges the noble intentions of many lawmakers who seek to safeguard users but contends that the bill’s approach warrants scrutiny. Frost, along with a minority faction within the House, has vocally opposed the bill, underscoring the contentious nature of this legislative endeavor.

Since its inception in 2016, TikTok has rapidly risen to prominence as a worldwide sensation, captivating users with its captivating short-form videos that have garnered a massive following among the younger demographic. In a remarkably short span of time, TikTok has amassed an impressive user base, boasting over 1 billion users across 150 countries globally. Notably, the app has seen over 210 million downloads in the United States, underscoring its immense popularity and widespread adoption among American audiences.

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