US panel to vote on banning TikTok on national security grounds in February

US panel to vote on banning TikTok on national security grounds in February

US panel to vote on banning TikTok on national security grounds in February

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The House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to hold a vote next month on a bill to block the use of Chinese social media app TikTok in the United States, the committee confirmed on Friday.


The measure, planned by panel chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican, would aim to give the White House the legal tools to ban TikTok on US national security grounds.

“The problem is that this app gives the Chinese government a backdoor into our phones,” McCaul told Bloomberg News, which reported the timing of the vote earlier.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump tried to block new users from downloading TikTok and ban other transactions that would have effectively blocked use of the app in the United States, but lost a series of court battles over this measure.

The Biden administration in June 2021 officially abandoned this effort. Then in December, Republican Senator Marco Rubio unveiled bipartisan legislation to ban TikTok, which would also block all transactions by any social media company in China and Russia or under its influence.

But a ban on the short-form video app, which is owned by ByteDance and popular among teens, would face significant hurdles in Congress to pass and would require 60 votes in the Senate.

For three years, TikTok – which has more than 100 million American users – has sought to assure Washington that the personal data of American citizens is not accessible and that its content cannot be manipulated by the Chinese Communist Party or anyone else. under the influence of Beijing.

TikTok said on Friday that “calls for total bans on TikTok take a piecemeal approach to national security and a piecemeal approach to big industry issues such as data security, privacy and online harm.”

The US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security body, in 2020 ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok over concerns that US user data could be passed to the Chinese government.

CFIUS and TikTok have been in talks since 2021, aiming to reach a national security agreement to protect US TikTok user data.

TikTok said it had a “comprehensive set of measures with layers of government and independent oversight to ensure there are no backdoors in TikTok that could be used to manipulate the platform.” and has invested around $1.5 billion (around Rs. 12,300 crore) to date on these efforts.

On Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the bill. “It’s being reviewed by (CFIUS) so I’m just not going to go into detail about it,” Jean-Pierre said.

Last month, Biden signed legislation banning federal employees from using or downloading TikTok on government-owned devices. More than 25 US states have also banned the use of TikTok on state-owned devices.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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