Will TikTok be banned in the United States?

If so, will US aligned countries follow suit?

Will TikTok be banned in the United States

The US House of Representatives has recently advanced legislation that would necessitate TiKTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to either divest its stakes or face exclusion from US app marketplaces, a de facto ban of TikTok on US controlled platforms

Legislative Momentum Against TikTok

The proposed legislation, known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, garnered substantial bipartisan support during its passage, with 352 members voting in favor and only 65 opposing. The bill reflects growing concerns among US lawmakers regarding the possibility of the Chinese government accessing American user data through TikTok’s engaging content algorithms. President Joe Biden has expressed his readiness to endorse the bill, contingent upon its congressional approval.

Critics, including a significant portion of TikTok’s 170 million American users and various civil liberties organizations, argue that such a ban might infringe upon free speech rights.

The Path Ahead

Despite the House’s approval, the bill encounters additional challenges in the Senate. It is subject to further examination and must navigate through potential legislative alternatives aiming to address similar concerns.

The Core of US Concerns

The apprehension surrounding TikTok stems from broader US-China tensions, with fears that ByteDance could fall under covert control by the Chinese Communist Party, potentially facilitating foreign influence campaigns. Despite TikTok’s reassurances of operating independently from the Chinese government, skepticism remains due to China’s stringent oversight of its tech sector and content censorship practices.

“ByteDance is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government. It is a private company,” affirmed TikTok CEO Shou Chew during a congressional testimony in March.

Broader Implications

The discourse extends beyond TikTok, encompassing apps considered under foreign influence, which might include popular Chinese online retailers. This reflects a continuing concern over the intersection of technology, privacy, and national security.

TikTok’s Defense

TikTok has consistently denied allegations of undue influence or data sharing with the Chinese government. However, its efforts to reassure US lawmakers have faced challenges, with CEO Shou Chew’s previous congressional testimony receiving mixed reactions.

Legislative and Political Dynamics

The bill’s advancement coincides with an election year, complicating its trajectory. While President Biden supports the divestment approach, the Senate’s consideration of the bill and potential legal challenges from ByteDance add layers of complexity to the situation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer noted the Senate’s intention to review the House-passed bill, though bipartisan perspectives on the issue vary, highlighting the intricate balance between regulatory measures and constitutional considerations.

Looking Forward

As the debate over TikTok’s future in the US continues, the implications for digital platforms, user privacy, and international relations remain profound. With the legislative process in motion and the broader geopolitical context, the outcome will likely shape the landscape of social media regulation and US-China relations for years to come.

China’s Stance on the Potential Sale of TikTok

China has articulated a strong opposition to any forced sale of the social media giant. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) underscored the implications such a move would have on international investment sentiment towards the United States.

Firm Opposition to Forced Sale

Shu Jueting, a spokesperson for MOFCOM, emphasized the adverse effects a compulsory sale would have on global investor confidence, particularly highlighting the concerns of Chinese investors.

“Forcing a sale of TikTok will seriously damage the confidence of investors from all over the world, including China, to invest in the United States,”

Shu articulated, underscoring the potential repercussions of such an action.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

Shu further elaborated that any decision regarding TikTok’s sale or divestiture falls under the ambit of Chinese regulatory laws, specifically pointing out the necessity of adhering to technology export protocols that require administrative licensing. “The sale or divestiture of TikTok involves technology export, which must be subject to administrative licensing procedures in accordance with Chinese laws,” she explained, indicating that the Chinese government will deliberate the matter in line with its legal framework.

These comments came in light of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s congressional testimony in Washington, amidst ongoing scrutiny over the app’s operations and ownership.

Background and Broader Implications

TikTok, with its substantial user base exceeding 150 million in the U.S. alone, has been at the center of a broader debate on data security and national sovereignty. The discussion around forcing ByteDance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, to divest its U.S. operations to a domestic entity first gained traction during the Trump administration. The U.S. government’s recent endeavors to mandate such a sale stem from national security concerns linked to the app’s Chinese ownership.

China’s Call for Fair Treatment

Addressing the broader theme of data security, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin criticized the utilization of national security as a pretext for impeding foreign companies.

“China always believes that data security should not be used as a tool to abuse the national security concept and state power to hobble foreign companies,”

Wang stated, urging the U.S. to desist from disseminating disinformation on data security.

Wang further challenged the U.S. to substantiate its national security allegations against TikTok with concrete evidence, advocating for an equitable and non-discriminatory business environment for foreign enterprises operating within its borders.

As the saga continues, the interplay between legal mandates, international relations, and corporate governance remains a focal point of discussion, reflecting broader themes of globalization, digital sovereignty, and the evolving landscape of international trade and investment.

What do you think?


Written by Layla Hadid

Layla Hadid is a passionate freelance journalist hailing from Midrand, known for her insightful coverage and compelling storytelling. With a keen eye for uncovering the stories that matter, Layla has made a name for herself in the journalism landscape of South Africa. Her work spans a variety of topics, from local community issues to broader, socially impactful stories that resonate with a diverse audience. Layla's dedication to truth and transparency has earned her respect and admiration among peers and readers alike.


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