A US TikTok ban could be one step closer to reality following House vote

TikTok logos in a pattern on a monitor
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The U.S. Congress votes in favor of a bill that could potentially ban TikTok for all Americans amid concerns about national security risks.
  • TikTok has been given 180 days to divest ownership from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.
  • TikTok says the bill violates the First Amendment rights of users and will potentially harm several small businesses. 

On Wednesday (Mar.13), the U.S. Congress passed a bill that would have major implications for TikTok, an app used by at least 170 million Americans.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. Although the bill mentions TikTok, it is applicable to any app controlled by foreign advisories in the U.S.

TikTok has been given 180 days to ensure that its China-based parent company ByteDance will have to sell TikTok within the U.S., or it will be banned in the country. This means it will become illegal for any app stores or web servers that host TikTok. 

"We have given TikTok a clear choice," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. 

"Separate from your parent company ByteDance, which is beholden to the CCP (the Chinese Communist Party), and remain operational in the United States, or side with the CCP and face the consequences. The choice is TikTok's."

Congress alleged that TikTok is being controlled by a company in China, despite several reassurances from the social media app that it is privately owned. This week, TikTok sent an in-app alert to U.S. users urging them to call their local representatives to oppose the bill. 

"Your voice can help the TikTok communities you love," the message said.

This move was taken after the U.S. government raised concerns about risks to national security and the data of users on the platform.

According to a recent tweet, a spokesperson from TikTok is calling this bill a "ban" and hopes that the Senate will consider facts before taking any action.

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"This bill is an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it," TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek said in a statement. "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."

The bill is currently being considered by the Senate, and its fate remains uncertain until then. President Biden has indicated that if the ownership issue isn't resolved, he will sign the bill if it comes to his desk.

However, TikTok might not disappear from people's devices anytime soon. According to CNN, the bill will face challenges and legal implications if it is signed into law.

Nandika Ravi
News Editor

Nandika Ravi is an Editor for Android Central. Based in Toronto, after rocking the news scene as a Multimedia Reporter and Editor at Rogers Sports and Media, she now brings her expertise into the Tech ecosystem. When not breaking tech news, you can catch her sipping coffee at cosy cafes, exploring new trails with her boxer dog or leveling up in the gaming universe.