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TikTok Faces Ban Threat in the US: Echoes of India’s 2020 Move

tiktok

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has taken a significant step toward addressing national security concerns by introducing legislation that could force China’s ByteDance to divest its popular short video app, TikTok, within the next six months. The bill, which has garnered support from the White House, mirrors the same reason that led to TikTok’s ban in India back in June 2020.

The Legislation and Its Implications

The proposed legislation gives ByteDance a tight deadline of 165 days to divest TikTok. If ByteDance fails to comply, the bill would make it unlawful for app stores run by Apple, Google, and others to offer TikTok or provide web hosting services to apps controlled by ByteDance. The move aims to address concerns about the app’s Chinese ownership and potential risks to national security.

A Familiar Reason

National security concerns were also the driving force behind India’s decision to ban TikTok and 50 other Chinese apps last year. The Indian government cited data privacy and security risks as the primary reasons for the ban. Now, the US lawmakers are echoing similar apprehensions, emphasizing the need to safeguard American user data and prevent undue influence from foreign entities.

TikTok Response

TikTok has consistently denied sharing US user data with the Chinese government. A company spokesperson emphasized that the proposed bill effectively amounts to an outright ban on TikTok, regardless of how it is framed. The app, widely used by more than 170 million Americans, remains adamant about its commitment to user privacy and data protection.

White House Support

The bill has received backing from the White House National Security Council, which considers it “an important and welcome step.” The Biden administration aims to collaborate with Congress to strengthen the legislation further and ensure its robust legal footing. The bill will be up for consideration at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday, March 7.

A Message to TikTok

Representative Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the House of Representatives’ select China committee, delivered a stern message to TikTok: “Break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users.” He emphasized that allowing a dominant media platform controlled by America’s foremost adversary is unacceptable.

As the legislative process unfolds, TikTok finds itself at a crossroads. Will it comply with the divestment order, or will it face the prospect of a US ban? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: the echoes of India’s 2020 ban resonate across the Pacific, underscoring the delicate balance between technology, national security, and user trust.

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