US Congressional Panel Advances Bill to Force TikTok Sale

A US congressional committee has greenlit legislation requiring TikTok’s China-based parent company to divest the app within six months or risk prohibition. The bill, championed by another House committee and endorsed by the White House, underscores national security apprehensions.

TikTok contends that the proposed law would impede free speech and hamper small businesses reliant on the platform. The social media giant has rallied its users to contact Congress and oppose the measure.

Confirming its outreach efforts, TikTok urged users to contact representatives and express dissent over the bill. The New York Times reported an inundation of phone lines, with some calls originating from teenagers. The legislation is slated for a full House vote next week, spearheaded by a bipartisan coalition within the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

Approved unanimously by the Energy and Commerce Committee, the bill mandates Senate approval before enactment. Committee members criticised TikTok’s user mobilisation, prompting the platform to question Congress’s receptiveness to constituent feedback.

The bill vows to safeguard national security against threats posed by foreign-controlled apps, specifically targeting ByteDance, TikTok’s owner. Allegations of ByteDance’s affiliations with the Chinese Communist Party are refuted by the company.

The legislation doesn’t penalise individual TikTok users but pressures ByteDance to relinquish control or risk app removal from US mobile stores. Committee figures assert that ByteDance’s ties with the Chinese government compromise American security interests.

Dismissing allegations of an outright ban, proponents argue that ByteDance has a six-month window to comply. TikTok, however, rebukes the legislation as a First Amendment infringement, endangering millions of users and small businesses.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) echoes concerns, condemning the bill as political maneuvering. The ACLU emphasises TikTok’s role in facilitating communication and information dissemination among Americans.

The proposed law signifies ongoing efforts to rein in TikTok, already banned on US government devices. Despite past legal hurdles, the app remains a contentious issue in American politics, with the Biden administration maintaining a presence on the platform. Former President Trump’s attempts to ban TikTok faced legal obstacles, never materialising into an enforceable policy.

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