House Committee Unanimously Approves Bill Forcing ByteDance to Sell TikTok

On Thursday, a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bipartisan bill that would force the Chinese company ByteDance to sell its controversial social media app TikTok.

According to the New York Post, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the bill, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, by a rare unanimous vote of 50-0 in the markup session on Thursday. The bill would forbid companies such as Google and Apple from selling TikTok on their app stores, or allowing the platform to use web hosting services in the United States, unless ByteDance sells the app within 180 days of the law being enacted.

The bill would also give the Executive Branch greater authority to ban other apps that are owned by foreign nations if said apps are determined to be a threat to national security. Any information determining such a threat must be made public and presented to Congress before such a unilateral ban is enacted at the executive level. The current bill only defines four nations as adversaries: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) voiced his support for the bill, denouncing China as America’s “largest geopolitical foe.” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said that House leadership would bring the bill to a full House vote sometime in the next week.

“Earlier today, we heard from members of the intelligence community about the dangers posed by applications, like TikTok, that are controlled by foreign adversaries and who are determined to exploit and weaponize Americans’ data,” said committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) ahead of the hearing on the legislation.

“We also witnessed firsthand, in real time, how the Chinese Communist Party can weaponize platforms like TikTok to manipulate the American people,” she continued. “This morning, prior to our hearing, TikTok used its influence and power to force users to contact their representatives if they wanted to continue using TikTok. This is just a small taste of how the CCP weaponizes applications it controls to manipulate tens of millions of people to further its agenda.”

TikTok, an app featuring short, vertical videos that first became popular with a trend of lip-syncing to famous songs, is currently used by over 100 million Americans; the vast majority of its userbase are under the age of 30. But in recent years, concerns have been raised regarding the app’s connections to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is linked to ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company. In addition to national security concerns, broader concerns have been raised about users’ privacy, with the company allegedly giving users’ private information to the Chinese government.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto