Science & Technology

US House Passes Bill to Force ByteDance to Divest TikTok

The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13, passed a bill according to which the Chinese company ByteDance, which owns TikTok, must divest the US assets of this short-video app within six months or face a ban.

US House Passes Bill to Force ByteDance to Divest TikTok

The mentioned bill was passed 352-65 with bipartisan support. At the same time, there is currently no certainty about what awaits this legislative initiative in the Senate, where there are many supporters of a different approach to regulating apps, which are part of the ownership structure of foreign companies. The leader of the majority in the upper house of Congress, Chuck Schumer, announced his intention to review the legislation in the context of the question of the future of TikTok in the United States.

Currently, about 170 million Americans are users of the virtual platform, which is owned by ByteDance. The lawmakers reported that they received numerous calls from teenagers interacting with TikTok, opposing the legislation. This number of appeals has significantly exceeded the number of calls for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

A TikTok representative, in a comment to the media, said about the hope that the Senate would consider the facts and listen to constituents.

It is worth noting that Washington has been making a kind of movement towards banning the virtual platform, which is part of the ownership structure of a Chinese company, for a long period. The relevant intentions exist in the context of the United States’ concerns about the threat to national security from China.

Republican No. 2 in the House of Representatives Steve Scalise published a post on the social media platform X, in which he stated that the bill regarding TikTok is the most important issue of ensuring US security, noting that the Senate should support this initiative.

Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell said about the desire to pass legislation that could hold up in court.

The vote has been taking place for more than a week since the bill was proposed after one public hearing with minimal debate. Last month, the campaign for the re-election of the President of the United States Joe Biden was launched on TikTok. Against this background, the virtual platform has hope that a ban in 2024 is unlikely.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will visit Capitol Hill. He intends to talk to the senators. This was reported by the media, referring to an insider who was aware of the plans of the CEO of the virtual platform.

Several dozen TikTok users gathered at the Capitol before the vote. The media, citing a representative of the company, claim that their trip to Washington and accommodation were paid for by TikTok. Some users of the virtual platform claim that the bill will deprive content creators of earnings, which will be a sensitive blow at a time when American youth are facing financial difficulties.

At the same time, the current configuration of political reality is favorable for the adoption of the bill. Last week, Joe Biden announced his support for this legislative initiative. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last Tuesday, March 12, that in this case, the goal is to end TikTok’s Chinese ownership, not ban the virtual platform.

Any forced divestment of TikTok from the United States is likely to be associated with legal problems. There are still claims from human rights organizations related to freedom of speech.

Last November, a judge blocked Montana’s ban on using TikTok after the company filed an appeal against the decision.

As we have reported earlier, Utah Sues TikTok.

Serhii Mikhailov

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Serhii’s track record of study and work spans six years at the Faculty of Philology and eight years in the media, during which he has developed a deep understanding of various aspects of the industry and honed his writing skills; his areas of expertise include fintech, payments, cryptocurrency, and financial services, and he is constantly keeping a close eye on the latest developments and innovations in these fields, as he believes that they will have a significant impact on the future direction of the economy as a whole.