TikTok releases a statement after the United States Congressional Committee approved a bill that could ease the app’s ban.
Tick tock makes a statement after a U.S. Congressional committee approved submitting a bill to the President that, if signed, could ease the ban on the social media app. TikTok’s statement condemns the accelerated prosecution of the bill and suggests that the freedom of expression rights of its American users, as well as TikTok users worldwide, would suffer.
TikTok has faced increasing pressure from U.S. government officials in recent years because an audit of its parent company ByteDance and its relationship with the Chinese government could put Americans’ data at risk. A law was recently passed that would ban TikTok from devices owned by government officials. Colleges have either banned the voluntary use of TikTok on campus, like the University of Mississippi, or are following state-level laws, like the University of Texas at Austin.
A statement released by a spokesperson for TikTok expresses disappointment with the expedited law and claims that TikTok is a US company that complies with US laws. The statement also claims that banning TikTok would ban the export of American culture and impacts American freedom of expression. Another statement to CNN claims that TikTok would rather see passage of a national security law it has worked out with the US government, which it claims would address these concerns.
The bill, which has been presented to the US Congress’s Foreign Affairs Committee, is titled HR 1153, or Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act. The bill would give the Biden administration the power to sanction ByteDance if it finds that the company “knowingly disclosed TikTok’s user data to a foreign individual working for or under the influence of the Chinese government.” The bill would include penalties that could result in a nationwide ban on TikTok if evidence is found that ByteDance leaked vital information about Americans at the behest of the Chinese government.
Support for and against the bill is largely split along party lines. While Republicans cite the possibility that ByteDance is being pressured by the Chinese government to release sensitive data about Americans or leak false information to them, Democrats believe the bill went through the process too quickly, creating confusion and inadvertently infringing US could endanger American and European companies. The bill also reportedly encroaches on and weakens the power of another piece of legislation, the Berman Amendment to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which is already on the books and bans the “free flow of information.”
A national ban on TikTok would affect millions of Americans, particularly Gen Z people, who not only use the platform for trending dances and pranks, but also share important information with one another. While there is a growing risk that the Chinese government will have the ability to negatively influence users, there is a fine line to walk that does not jeopardize Americans’ freedom of expression.
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