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Will Congress ban TikTok? – The post

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On March 13, the US House of Representatives passed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act to eliminate TikTok from US soil.

This isn't the first time there's been talk of banning TikTok in the US. So what's different this time?

This bill targets the app's parent company, ByteDance, based in China. In 2017, the company acquired the app Musical.ly and merged it with TikTok. Since then, TikTok has exploded internationally with over a billion users.

The app recently came under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that third parties were tracking its users' data. Additionally, users were tracked even if they left the app and opted out of data tracking.

Additionally, the app is not clear about where the data goes or how much data is collected and tracked. However, the app is currently known to collect information about users' locations, IP addresses, and messages. The app's US privacy policy also states that it may collect biometric information such as facial or vocal information.

Data collection has become a goal of the U.S. government because of uncertainty about where much of third-party information is stored and how it is used.

The first attempt to address these issues occurred in 2020; Former President Donald Trump attempted to ban TikTok via executive order. There were then attempts to sell the app to Microsoft, but this was unsuccessful. In the end, TikTok struck a deal with software company Oracle Corp. away. US users' information, which would now be stored on its servers without ByteDance having access to it, raised the government's regulatory concerns.

At the end of 2022, President Joe Biden banned the app from government devices. However, it's worth noting that the Biden campaign only joined Tiktok in February to appeal to younger voters.

In March 2023, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was questioned for almost five hours in a hearing before the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. The Singaporean businessman was asked about the Chinese government's involvement in the app, stating that the app is “free from any manipulation by any government.” However, this was met with skepticism from members of Congress.

Then, in late 2023, Montana became the first state to attempt to ban TikTok. However, the bill was blocked by federal judges because it was viewed as a violation of the First Amendment and an overreach of state power.

This takes us to 2024. More and more lawmakers are calling for action against TikTok. Many are in favor of divesting from parent company Bytedance. However, no seller has been identified and Chinese officials have responded negatively to calls for a divestment, saying they do not want to sell the success. If a seller cannot be found, a ban may be imposed.

The congressional bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 352-65-1. It now heads to the U.S. Senate, where its path is far more unclear as lawmakers said they would need to reconsider the bill before voting.

The future of the app depends on how the US government would ban it. Some speculate that it could be removed from app stores, preventing new users from joining the app while current users still have access to it. At the moment, the existence of TikTok in the USA is still uncertain.

@alicia_szcz

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