TikTok, the popular social media app, has been a topic of concern for members of the United States government for years. The main worry stems from the fact that the app is owned by ByteDance, a China-based company, which has led to concerns about data sharing and potential spying on users by the Chinese government.
Recently, there have been renewed efforts to ban TikTok from operating entirely in the United States, with several bills introduced into the Senate and Congress. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew even appeared before Congress in a hearing in March to discuss the app’s relationship with China and how users are protected on the platform.
Here’s everything we know about the latest developments surrounding the potential ban of TikTok in the United States.
Federal Bills Aim to Ban TikTok from the USA
On December 13, 2022, two US Senators introduced a bill that would ban TikTok from operating in the country entirely due to its links to Beijing. The law was originally titled “The Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act.” It would not only ban TikTok but also other social media companies that have ties to China, Russia, and several other “foreign countries of concern.”
In January 2023, Senator Josh Hawley also introduced his own bill that would ban TikTok across the USA. It remains unclear when the act will be voted on by the Senate, if at all.
In December, US Congress officially banned TikTok on all federal government devices.
Senator Calls for TikTok Removal from App Stores
On February 2, 2023, US Senator Michael Bennet wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing his concerns about TikTok being available on their respective app stores. He called for both CEOs to remove TikTok entirely so that users would not be able to download the app at all.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Passes Legislation to Ban TikTok
On March 1, 2023, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed legislation that would allow the Biden administration to ban transactions with TikTok nationwide. This would effectively ban the app entirely when accessed within the US, as it would take away the ability to download and connect to the app’s servers. However, the legislation will have to be voted on in the House of Representatives and Senate before it can be passed on to President Biden for the final decision.
TikTok CEO Appears Before Congress
On March 23, 2023, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress in a hearing where he was questioned about the app’s relationship with China and how children are protected on the platform. Chew denied that ByteDance is an agent of China or any other country, and described the Project Texas initiative which aims to seal off protected US user data from unauthorized foreign access. However, concerns have been raised about whether the project is technically capable of providing the necessary assurances.
Is TikTok Getting Banned in the USA?
At the time of writing, there has been no official announcement of a ban on TikTok in the United States, despite concerns about data sharing with the Chinese government. It remains to be seen whether this will change in the future.
In conclusion, the fate of TikTok in the US remains uncertain, with various bills and legislation being introduced in Congress to ban the app entirely due to its ties to China. However, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has testified before Congress and denied any wrongdoing on the company’s part. It remains to be seen whether TikTok will be able to continue operating in the US or whether it will be banned in the near future.
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