Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

The US bill to ban TikTok is adopted

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Protesters appeared in front of the Capitol to denounce the bill banning TikTok, March 13, 2024.

Agence France-Presse

The US House of Representatives adopted a bill on Wednesday which provides for the ban on TikTok in the United States if the social network does not cut ties with its parent company, ByteDance, and more broadly with China.

This is a major development for the platform, which did not seem threatened until a few days ago, even if the outcome of the upcoming vote in the Senate remains uncertain.

TikTok has been in the crosshairs of American authorities for several months, with many officials believing that the short and entertaining video platform allows Beijing to spy on and manipulate its 170 million subscribers ;users in the United States.

The company has repeatedly denied having transmitted information to the Chinese authorities and assured that it would refuse any possible request in this direction.

The text of the law, adopted by a large majority of 352 votes out of 432 elected officials, does not ban TikTok, argued the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries, who voted in favor of the proposal.

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It aims to resolve legitimate questions of national security and data protection linked to the Chinese Communist Party's relationship with a social network, he explained in a press release.

This process was carried out in secret and the text presented urgently for one reason: it is a ban, reacted a TikTok spokesperson to the AFP.

We hope that the Senate will take the facts into account, listen to its constituents and understand the impact [that a ban would have] on the economy.

A quote from A spokesperson for TikTok

Allowing TikTok to continue to operate in the United States while under the control of the Chinese Communist Party is simply unacceptable, a commented former Republican Vice President Mike Pence in a statement.

Ahead of the vote, China had made it known that a ban would undermine the confidence of international investors and would amount, for the world's leading power, to taking advantage of shot in the foot, according to a spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy, criticizing the intimidation against TikTok.

The bill's fate is uncertain in the Senate, where prominent figures oppose such a drastic measure against a hugely popular app.

The leader of the Democrats in the Upper House, Chuck Schumer, simply took note of the vote on Wednesday, without commenting on the text.

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Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader of the US Senate (File photo)

US President Joe Biden said that if passed in the Senate, he would sign into law the bill, known officially as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. by foreign adversaries).

The proposed law would require ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, to sell the app within 180 days, otherwise it would be excluded from Apple and Google app stores in the United States.

No potential buyer has yet officially come forward. The Wall Street Journal reports that the former boss of video game publisher Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, has expressed interest in the co-founder of ByteDance, Zhang Yiming.

The value of TikTok is difficult to estimate, especially in the case of a forced sale. In 2020, ByteDance had set its price at 60 billion US dollars when the government of Donald Trump wanted to force it to separate, according to the Bloomberg agency.

Several states and the federal government have banned use of the app on government officials' official devices, citing national security risks.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is in Washington, where he is trying to drum up support to block the bill.

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Shou Zi Chew (center) has been the CEO of TikTok since May 2021.

Former US President Donald Trump (2017-2021) made a change of heart by saying on Monday that he was opposed to a ban, mainly because it would strengthen Meta, the owner of Instagram and Facebook, which he called an enemy of the people.

In 2020, the real estate developer, then President of the United States, attempted to wrest control of TikTok from ByteDance before being prevented from doing so by the American courts.

Mr. Trump has refuted accusations that he changed his tune because a major investor in TikTok, Jeff Yass, threatened to stop helping fund Republican election campaigns.

Other attempts to ban TikTok have also failed, with a bill proposed a year ago failing to succeed, mainly due to concerns over free speech.

As for the current proposal, it is too general a text, which will not stand up to the examination of the first amendment to the American Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, reacted the elected Democrat in the House Ro Khanna.

A law adopted in May by the state of Montana to ban the platform was suspended by a federal court in November on the grounds that it violated constitutional rights to free speech.

The other problem is that a lot of people make a living with this platform in the United States, Ro Khanna added to journalists.

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