Future Tech

US Congress to take on TikTok ban bill – again

Tan KW
Publish date: Fri, 19 Apr 2024, 03:49 PM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives will again vote Saturday on a bill that would force TikTok to divest from Chinese parent company ByteDance or face a nationwide ban.

The measure has been written into a massive US$61bil aid bill for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, which could ease its passage in both chambers of the US Congress.

Under the bill, ByteDance would have to sell the app within a few months or be excluded from Apple and Google's app stores in the United States.

It would also give the US president the authority to designate other applications as a threat to national security if they are controlled by a country deemed hostile.

TikTok slammed the bill, saying it would hurt the US economy and undermine free speech.

"It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill," a company spokesman said.

He added a ban would "trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes IS$24bil to the US economy annually."

Western officials have voiced alarm over the popularity of TikTok with young people, alleging that it is subservient to Beijing and a conduit to spread propaganda, claims denied by the company and Beijing.

Joe Biden reiterated his concerns about TikTok during a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in early April.

The House of Representatives last month approved a similar bill cracking down on TikTok, but the measure got held up in the Senate.

 - AFP

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