General News / April 24, 2024

Wait…TikTok’s Getting Banned in the U.S.?

President Biden's TikTok Profile Picture
General News / April 24, 2024

Wait…TikTok’s Getting Banned in the U.S.?

Text: Izzy Copestake

The US Senate has passed a measure to ban the app. That is, unless the Chinese owners sell to the U.S.

Late last night, the Senate passed a legislative package which included a provision which could lead to the ban of TikTok, if the platform’s Chinese owner (Bytedance) doesn’t sell to an American owner within the next year. The House has already approved the ban, and President Biden has confirmed that he will sign the bill today.

The US Government has been freaked out by TikTok for a while now. Last summer, the app was banned from governments official’s work phones and Republican politician Mike Gallagher described the platform as “digital fentanyl” because of “it’s highly addictive and destructive” quality. Moral panic in the Republican party around the app is hardly surprising. However, the broader root of inter-party concern has a clear root: China, and more specifically, Chinese Communism. Last year, Gallagher stated that the app was “effectively controlled by the Chinese Communist Party”. More recently, the conversation has largely been focussed on data concerns. 150 million people use TikTok every month in the US, and in turn, the company collects vast troves of data from its users.

Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of policy for America, has stated that the company will engage in a legal fight over the proposed legislation in court, which was first reported by digital news site The Information. Beckeman maintained that the proposed ban-or-sell legislation violates the US’s first amendment, and the right to freedom of speech. However, if the legislation does go ahead: app stores will stop offering the app, or face financial penalties.

“We’ll continue to fight, as this legislation is a clear violation of the first amendment rights of the 170 million Americans on TikTok,”

Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of policy for America

While ByteDance is a Chinese company, the CEO of TikTok is from Singapore. Earlier this year a U.S. Senator demonstrated that he doesn’t know the different between the two. In a clip of a court case which has since gone viral online. CEO Shou Chew was bombarded with questions about his nationality and affiliation to the Chinese Communist Party by Senator Tom Cotton. Cotton has since been accused of ignorance and racism for his behaviour in court.

Even under the guise of moral panic over “digital fentanyl”, the clause in the law which pushes TikTok to sell to a US owner makes it clear that this legislation is about one thing: China.

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