Sale or ban: US representatives put Tiktok parent Bytedance under pressure

The US House of Representatives wants to force the Chinese owner of Tiktok to sell the popular video platform by law – otherwise there is a risk of a ban. On Wednesday, MPs voted by a large majority in favor of a bill that threatens Chinese parent company Bytedance with a ban on the app in the US if it does not sell it within 180 days. Bytedance is suspected of giving the Chinese Communist Party access to user data.

The legislative initiative was supported in the House of Representatives in a rare act of bipartisan unity by both the dominant opposition Republicans there and President Joe Biden's Democrats. 325 MPs voted for and 65 against.

The vote shows parliamentary resistance “to communist China's attempts to spy and manipulate Americans,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican. It's about “deterring our enemies.” He called on the Senate, the other chamber of Congress, to also pass the bill.

However, the approval of the Senate, which is also required, is uncertain. Some influential senators have spoken out against the bill. The Republican ex-president and expected renewed presidential candidate Donald Trump also opposed a Tiktok ban this week. However, Trump made a 180-degree turn. During his presidency, he campaigned to take control of the app away from Bytedance.

The White House, however, has already announced that Biden will sign the bill when it is passed by both chambers of Congress and thus bring it into force. Beijing criticized the proposed law on Wednesday as “bullying behavior” and vaguely warned that the move would “inevitably cause trouble for the United States.”

The proposed law would give the US President the authority to classify other apps as threats to national security if they are controlled by a country that is considered hostile. The US federal authorities have already banned Tiktok from their work cell phones due to data protection concerns. However, previous initiatives to ban the app nationwide had come to nothing.

A law passed last year in the US state of Montana to ban Tiktok was stopped by a federal court, which saw it as a possible threat to freedom of expression. Tiktok also denies any ties to the Chinese government. The company also assures that it has restructured itself so that user data remains in the USA.

Tiktok has long since overtaken Facebook and Instagram in terms of usage times. Tiktok has more than a billion users worldwide.