Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Group of lawmakers agrees on a proposal that might make TikTok illegal

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A big group of lawmakers took a step forward on Thursday to make a rule that could stop people from using TikTok on all their gadgets across the country. This move challenges one of the most liked apps globally and shows worries that TikTok might be a spying risk from the Chinese government.

The rule, which got support from everyone in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says that TikTok can’t be on American app stores unless it separates quickly from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. The company has about 170 million users in the U.S. If the rule becomes a law, ByteDance has around five months to sell TikTok. If they don’t sell it by then, it will be against the law for app stores like Apple and Google to let people download it. The rule also talks about similar bans for other apps “controlled by foreign adversary companies.”

This is the strictest law against TikTok that has come out of a group of lawmakers since the CEO of the company said last year that TikTok is not a threat to Americans.

The people behind the rule want to protect Americans from apps controlled by other countries and send a strong message that the U.S. will always defend its values and freedom, according to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the committee.

The rule was introduced by Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, with support from the White House and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Now that it has passed the committee, it will go for a vote on the floor next week. The future of the rule is uncertain in the Senate, where there is no similar rule, and the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Maria Cantwell, has not firmly said if she will support it.

Another rule that got support from everyone in the House on Thursday limits American companies from selling personal information to other countries. This rule is because U.S. officials worry that the data of Americans could be a security risk. The government and other law enforcement agencies have also bought data of Americans from data brokers.

TikTok is fighting against the rule and has tried to get its users to do the same. The app has shown pop-ups warning users that the rule takes away their right to free expression. TikTok says the rule will harm businesses, creators, and artists.

Even though some lawmakers say the rule is not a ban on TikTok, the company disagrees. TikTok says the government wants to completely ban it in the U.S. The company rejects claims that the rule gives options for TikTok to keep going.

The debate about TikTok has been going on for a while. Some people in the U.S. government are worried that China could use TikTok to spy on Americans. They think that the Chinese government could get user data from TikTok and use it for things like targeting intelligence or spreading fake news.

So far, there’s no proof that China has accessed TikTok user data, but some experts say it’s still a serious worry. They also say that governments can already buy a lot of personal data from data brokers or use spyware to hack into phones easily.

Efforts to ban TikTok started during the Trump administration, but they faced legal problems. TikTok has been talking with the U.S. government about how to keep Americans’ data safe.

This new rule could affect more than just TikTok. It could also impact other parts of the economy, like Apple and Google, by limiting where TikTok content can be carried.

The people behind the rule say it’s about stopping foreign countries from controlling apps in the U.S., but some groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union, think it goes against Americans’ free speech rights. They say that even if the rule doesn’t directly censor speech, it will still affect people’s right to speak freely.

Tech companies like Apple and Google also worry that the rule would threaten their free speech rights. They say the government can’t tell private companies what they can publish, as it goes against the First Amendment.

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