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Lawmakers want to push ByteDance to divest TikTok or risk US ban

TikTok app logo is shown in this image shot, August 22, 2022.

WASHINGTON, March 5 (mod1s) - A bipartisan group of U.S. legislators filed legislation on Tuesday that would give China's ByteDance approximately six months to sell popular short video app TikTok or risk a U.S. ban.
Representative Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the House of Representatives' select China committee and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, the top Democrat, are introducing legislation along with more than a dozen other lawmakers to address national security concerns posed by Chinese ownership of the app.

An first vote is likely Thursday.
"This is my message to TikTok: break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users," Gallagher stated. "America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States."
The bill would give ByteDance 165 days to divest TikTok, which is used by more than 170 million Americans, or it would be unlawful for app stores operated by Apple (AAPL.O), opens new tab, Google (GOOGL.O), opens new tab and others to offer TikTok or to provide web hosting services to ByteDance-controlled applications. The measure would not permit any action against individual users of an impacted app.

"This bill is an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it," a company spokeswoman stated Tuesday. "This legislation will trample the First Amendment rights of 170 million Americans and deprive 5 million small businesses of a platform they rely on to grow and create jobs."
TikTok said it has not and would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese authorities.
Senate proposal to prohibit the popular app stalled in Congress last year in the face of intense lobbying from TikTok. The measure is the first substantial legislative step toward banning or compelling ByteDance to divest the app in almost a year.

The measure, which would need similar legislation in the Senate, will be reviewed at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday for a possible vote and may represent a substantial threat to ByteDance's ownership of TikTok.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who leads the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the measure would "prevent foreign adversaries, such as China, from surveilling and manipulating the American people through online applications like TikTok."

Still, the app is immensely popular and getting laws adopted in an election year may be challenging. Last month, Democratic President Joe Biden's re-election campaign joined TikTok.
The law would give the president unprecedented authority to identify applications of concern presenting national security threats and face bans or limitations lacking divestment. It would apply to applications with "over one million annual active users, and is under the control of a foreign adversary entity."
Concerns over Chinese-owned TikTok last year fueled measures in Congress to expand authority to handle the popular short video sharing app or even prohibit it.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre declined to offer a position on the bill but last year the administration backed legislation sponsored by Senator Mark Warner and more than two dozen other senators to give the administration new powers to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats. That measure has never been voted on.
The U.S. Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in March 2023 asked that TikTok's Chinese owners sell their holdings, or face the potential of the app being banned, Reuters and other news sources reported, but the government has taken no action.
The new measure is intended at boosting the legal ability to resolve TikTok problems. Biden's predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, sought to ban TikTok in 2020 but was thwarted by U.S. courts.
A U.S. court in late November banned Montana's first-of-its type state ban on TikTok, finding it violated the free expression rights of users.

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