New bill would force TikTok to divest from China, or face US ban

The bipartisan piece of legislation cites national security concerns over TikTok's ties to its Chinese-owned parent company ByteDance.
Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 07, 2024

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are again pushing forward with an effort to prohibit TikTok in the United States.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a new piece of legislation this week that would give the social media app six months to either divest from its Chinese-owned parent company ByteDance, or face a nationwide ban. The bill was reviewed Thursday by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and passed unanimously. It's now poised for a vote on the House floor.

However, lawmakers are already facing backlash from TikTok users, who are flooding their offices with calls. 

Politico reported that person called a Republican official and said, "If you ban TikTok, I will kill myself.” 

This bill is just the latest effort to ban TikTok over national security concerns regarding whether China has direct access to users' data. Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, who heads the House committee investigating China, says after the bill was introduced, some TikTok users were already getting pop-ups on the app allegedly lying about the bill and what it intends to achieve.

"It asks [users] to enter the zip code they're in and then it automatically calls the member of Congress in that zip code saying 'Stop the ban on TikTok,'" Gallagher told a group of reporters. "But of course, if you actually read the bill, it's not a ban. It's a divestiture and it puts the choice squarely in the hands of TikTok to sever their relationship with the Chinese Communist party. And as long as they do that, as long as ByteDance no longer owns the company, TikTok can continue to survive."

TikTok fined $15.9M by UK watchdog over misuse of kids' data
Someone on the TikTok app

TikTok fined $15.9M by UK watchdog over misuse of kids' data

The watchdog says TikTok allowed as many as 1.4 million children in the U.K. under 13 to use the app, despite the platform's own rules.


TikTok reports it has more than 150 million users in the U.S., meaning a potential nationwide ban would affect many Americans. According to OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan platform tracking political spending, TikTok has spent over 10 million dollars in recent years trying to convince lawmakers that TikTok data is safe. 

Several U.S. agencies — including the White House — have already taken moves to prohibit federal workers from downloading TikTok on any government devices, citing national security concerns. The Office of Management and Budget called the guidance a "critical step forward in addressing the risks presented by the app to sensitive government data." 

According to a poll conducted by Pew Research Center, over 50% of Americans believe TikTok is a major or minor threat to U.S. national security. And among TikTok users, about 42% say they believe the platform is a national security concern.