House overwhelmingly passes bill that could ban TikTok

Congressmen are trying to stop China from influencing Americans through the popular app.

With 352 votes in favor and 62 against, an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that could ban TikTok. Despite TikTok's strong campaign to stop this bill, the two parties came together in a not-so-common event in the House, to vote, with a wide margin, in favor of the bill.

The bill requires TikTok to sever ties with ByteDance, its China-based parent company, otherwise the U.S. government will ban the app for national security reasons. The bill gives ByteDance six months to sell TikTok to a company not located in China or any other country hostile to the United States.

President Biden has said that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will sign it. However, the future of this bill is not clear in the Senate. Several legislators have expressed that they would like to discuss it in more detail. They also want to have hearings on the issue before voting. What is clear is that the House of Representatives has sent a strong message to the Senate by passing the bill with such a large number of votes from both parties. That should open the doors in the Senate for this bill.

A threat to national security

Representatives Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., of the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authored the bill. They explained before the House of Representatives that as long as a company is based in China, it must abide by the Chinese Communist Party. The bill states that if TikTok is going to continue operating in the United States, it must cut ties with the CCP to protect national security.

If after six months TikTok does not have a new owner, American companies such as Google or Apple will have to remove the app from their app stores, making it impossible to use it in the United States. This bill was presented to the House of Representatives after multiple debates and hearings exposing the dangers of having an app operating in the United States whose parent company is based in China.

Representatives and senators from both parties have been debating for years about the potential dangers of TikTok. They claim the app is being used by the CCP to monitor and obtain data on Americans and distribute Chinese propaganda to millions of young people. Congressmen are not only worried about the threats it poses to national security. They are also concerned about the psychological damage that TikTok can have on young people. The app has been known to expose users to content that promotes suicidal behavior and can even lead to problems such as anorexia and bulimia.

Is China trying to change the course of the U.S. elections?

One of the issues that primarily worries Republican legislators has to do with the influence that TikTok has on U.S. elections. In the hearings held this week in Congress, it was clear that TikTok uses some type of strategy to influence and try to determine the future of the elections in the United States.

For some congressmen, this bill is an attack on freedom of expression. They believe it would harm the millions of Americans who use the social network for their businesses, to display and sell their products, or as a form of expression. However, those who support the bill claim that it is not about freedom of expression but about national security. They believe that while Americans should be able to express themselves in any way and have multiple avenues to do so, TikTok is being used by the CCP to attack the United States in different ways.