Connectivity

TikTok could be pulled from app stores under new national security bill

The legislation creates a path for TikTok to remain available if parent company ByteDance fully divests it.
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Hey, you! Stop scrolling.

Under a bipartisan House bill introduced Tuesday, tens of millions of US TikTok users could be forced to follow the viral video app’s take-a-break advice—like, permanently.

The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act calls for app stores and web hosting companies to drop TikTok and any other platforms owned by Chinese firm ByteDance unless the platforms split off from their parent company, which is labeled as a national security risk.

“This is my message to TikTok: Break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican and one of the bill’s two sponsors, said in a statement. “America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States.”

In addition to 18 cosponsors, the legislation picked up support from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican who has been outspoken on efforts to rein in TikTok based on concerns that it shares too much user data with China. If passed, the bill “will definitively resolve the TikTok threat,” he said during remarks at the INCOMPAS Policy Summit in Washington, DC.

“This is not just another messaging bill,” Carr said. “I’m really hopeful that this is the bill that will get across the finish line.”

He noted that the bill is expected to pass out of the Select Committee on the CCP, where it originated, and move through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The latter held a classified hearing on the legislation Thursday.

As Tech Brew reported last year, a majority of surveyed voters agreed that Congress should pass some form of tech regulation. However, Gen Z voters—one of TikTok’s biggest demographics—are “less likely to support stricter content moderation, and more likely to think that technology more broadly is sufficiently regulated.”

Another demographic that might resist the bill? Free-speech experts.

“Congress can protect data privacy and security without banning Americans from accessing one of the world’s most popular communications platforms,” Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement shared with Tech Brew. “It should start by passing a comprehensive privacy law restricting the kinds of information that TikTok and other platforms can collect.”

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.