US House of Representatives Considering Ban on Tik Tok

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A US House of Representatives committee voted on Wednesday in favor of a bill that would make it easier for the House of Representatives to ban the TikTok app, which is owned by a Chinese company, amid criticism that the proposal threatens freedom of expression.

The Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the “Deterring America’s Technology Adversaries” bill, but the bill will face opposition from free speech activists and Democrats when it goes to votes in the House and Senate .

“The bill requires the administration to ban TikTok or any software application that threatens U.S. national security,” committee chair Michael McCaul said.

“Make no mistake, TikTok poses a security threat. It allows (China) to manipulate and monitor its users while harvesting data from Americans for their malicious activities,” he added.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is under investigation in several countries for privacy and surveillance reasons.

The proposed legislation amends a law passed in the 1980s that prevents the government from restricting the free flow of visual entertainment between foreign countries, adding a “sensitive personal data” exception.

The proposed legislation would require the US administration to impose sanctions, including bans, on companies that knowingly provide TikTok user data to “any foreign person” with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

For its part, a TikTok official said the company was “disappointed to see this rushed piece of legislation moving forward” in Congress.

“The US ban on TikTok is a ban on exporting American culture and values ​​to the more than one billion people who use its service around the world,” company spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter added in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a letter to the committee on Monday that the legislation could violate the rights of Americans under the amendment.

The committee’s top Democrat, Gregory Meeks, lamented “Republicans’ instinct to ban the things they fear from books to speeches.”

He added, “Before taking the unprecedented step of banning an app used by more than 100 million Americans, harming our national security and violating their freedom of expression and speech, Congress should first consult appropriately with the administration and other interested parties”.

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