Sponsored by Indian American Raja Krishnamoorthi, US House passes TikTok crackdown bill


The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation, co-sponsored by Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote that could lead to the banning of the popular social media platform TikTok. The fate of the app, used monthly by 170 million Americans, now rests with the Senate where some lawmakers have vowed to prevent the law’s speedy passage.

President Joe Biden, who will have the final say, has said he will sign it into law.

The legislation passed with 352 affirmative votes to 65 negative and one vote marked as present.

Rep Mike Gallagher co-introduced the bill with Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi

It was co-sponsored by Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher. Congressman Krishnamoorthi is a Democrat. They are respectively the chair and ranking member of the House Select Committee on China.

“Today we send a clear message that we will not tolerate our adversaries weaponizing our freedoms against us,” said Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Republican chair of the House Commerce Committee who advanced the TikTok bill.

The legislation requires TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which is based in China and is alleged to have links to the Chinese government, to divest its stake in the company within 180 days of the enactment of the law.

Failure to meet the deadline would bar TikTok from the app stores of Apple and Google.

The app had mounted a vigorous campaign to defeat the legislation through appeals from its users and influencers. Former President Donald Trump, who had met an American investor in TikTok, famously changed his position and came out in opposition to any effort to ban the app arguing it would make Facebook stronger, which he believes is a bigger threat.

But he did not canvass the lawmakers, which he has done in the past to defeat proposed legislative measures that he does not like.

TikTok is considered a security threat because of its links to the Chinese government and lawmakers and officials have said that Beijing can access data on Americans through the app.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified earlier this year that he is a Singapore citizen and has no links with China.

TikTok has argued that the data on Americans is stored in the US.

“So long as it is owned by ByteDance and thus required to collaborate with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), TikTok poses critical threats to our national security. Our bipartisan legislation would protect American social media users by driving the divestment of foreign adversary-controlled apps to ensure that Americans are protected from the digital surveillance and influence operations of regimes that could weaponise their personal data against them. Whether it’s Russia or the CCP, this bill ensures the President has the tools he needs to press dangerous apps to divest and defend Americans’ security and privacy against our adversaries,” Krishnamoorthi had said while introducing the bill on March 5.

The bill garnered bipartisan support and speedily made it to the floor vote with a 50-0 clearance by the Commerce Committee. Its passage through the Senate may not be as swift.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, has said he will block any effort to clear the bill speedily. Other Senators, on both sides, have also expressed opposition citing, one, its popularity with young Americans, especially so in an election year.

Other opponents have cited creating a precedent for banning companies and platforms by name.

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