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Thursday, May 23, 2024

New US legislation puts TikTok’s future in jeopardy

This move is the latest in a series of efforts to address concerns over data privacy and security linked to the Chinese-owned platform.

In the ongoing saga surrounding the popular short-video app TikTok, congressional lawmakers have unveiled proposed legislation that could lead to its ban in the United States if its parent company, ByteDance, fails to divest it. This move is the latest in a series of efforts to address concerns over data privacy and security linked to the Chinese-owned platform.

Congressional Action

The measure, introduced by Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, enjoys bipartisan support and aims to compel ByteDance to relinquish control of TikTok within a specified timeframe. Failure to comply would result in the app being deemed illegal for distribution on major app stores, such as Apple and Google.

Read More: Fatwa Issued, Calls Tiktok ‘Haraam’

Growing Concerns

For years, U.S. officials have raised alarms about ByteDance’s data-collection practices and its potential ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Despite previous legislative attempts, concerns persist, prompting renewed efforts to address the issue.

TikTok’s Response

In response to the proposed legislation, TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek criticized the bill, labeling it as an outright ban that infringes upon the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans. Haurek argued that such a move would not only impact individual users but also hinder the growth of millions of small businesses that rely on the platform for promotion and engagement.

Stakeholder Perspectives

Rep. Gallagher emphasized the need for TikTok to sever ties with the Chinese Communist Party or face consequences. Meanwhile, TikTok’s Chief Executive, Shou Zi Chew, has repeatedly denied any connections between the app and the Chinese government, maintaining that TikTok operates independently.

Protecting American Interests

According to Rep. Krishnamoorthi, the proposed legislation aims to safeguard American social media users from potential digital surveillance and influence operations orchestrated by foreign adversaries. By compelling divestment of apps controlled by such entities, the legislation seeks to mitigate the risk of personal data being weaponized against American citizens.

Implications and Uncertainties

As the debate over TikTok unfolds, the proposed legislation faces uncertainties, particularly in an election year. The fate of TikTok in the U.S. hangs in the balance, with stakeholders closely monitoring developments in Congress.

Read More: TikTok Under Scrutiny for Child Safety

The battle over TikTok emphasizes broader concerns surrounding data privacy, national security, and the influence of foreign-owned platforms in the digital age. As policymakers grapple with these challenges, the outcome of the proposed legislation will have far-reaching implications for the future of social media regulation and the protection of American interests in the online sphere.