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Could the US actually ban TikTok?

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The US is progressing plans to ban TikTok. The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would force TikTok’s Chinese parent company to sell it or face a ban in the country.
u.s. tiktok ban

The US is progressing plans to ban TikTok. The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would force TikTok’s Chinese parent company to sell it or face a ban in the country.

The bill still needs to pass a few more steps before it can become a law.

So what does this all mean? And could it happen in Australia?

Here’s what you need to know.

About TikTok

TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. There are about 170 million users in the US alone (roughly half of its population).

Some countries have raised concerns that data from TikTok is being shared with the Chinese Government, which would be a security risk.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew addressed these concerns during a US Committee hearing last year, saying: “TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, US user data with the Chinese government. Nor would TikTok honour such a request if one were ever made.”

Legislation

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would force ByteDance to sell TikTok, or see it banned in the US.

As well as TikTok, the bill says it will apply to any other social media company “that is controlled by a foreign adversary and has been determined by the President to present a significant threat to national security”.

The bill was passed with broad bipartisan support — both Democrat and Republican politicians were in favour of it.

Response

Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi, one of the bill’s authors, said the intention “is for TikTok to continue to operate, but not under the control of the Chinese Communist Party”.

Maxwell Frost, also a Democrat politician, is against the bill. He said: “Am I concerned about Americans’ data? Yes I am… But this bill does not fix this problem.”

What happens next?

The bill now needs to pass the Senate. It is not clear what will happen, as Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer has not confirmed if he will bring the legislation to the floor. His role allows him to determine the schedule of bills in the Senate.

If it passes the Senate, President Joe Biden must approve it. He has said he will do that.

If it does become law, it may still face challenges over whether it complies with the country’s Constitution.

TikTok response

The CEO of TikTok Shou Chew has criticised the bill and called it “disappointing”.

In a video posted to TikTok, Chew said: “Over the last few years, we have invested to keep your data safe, and our platform free from outside manipulation…

“This bill gives more power to a handful of other social media companies. It will also take billions of dollars out of the pockets of creators and small businesses.”

Australia

In Australia, all Federal Government devices are already banned from having TikTok. This doesn’t impact the broader population’s access to the app.

In an interview this morning, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Australian Government has “no plans” to introduce similar legislation to the US’ proposed TikTok ban.

“You’ve always got to have national security concerns front and centre, but you also need to acknowledge that for a whole lot of people, this provides a way of them communicating,” Albanese said.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has criticised the Government for not doing more on the issue.

“The Prime Minister has to act, and so far, the Prime Minister hasn’t done that…

“If the intelligence agencies here are advising the Prime Minister that young people online… [are] being compromised… then that’s not a safe place for young people to be.”

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