Is TikTok about to be banned in the US?


TikTok could be banned from operating in the US if the China-based owner does not sell its stake within a year following the House of Representatives passing legislation on Saturday.

The bill will next head to the Senate, which is expected to pass, buoyed by its attachment to a larger foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel that has gained bipartisan support.

TikTok has attracted unwanted scrutiny not only for the addictiveness of its constantly scrolling videos but also due to its Chinese owner, ByteDance. That has raised concerns among lawmakers and security experts that the Chinese government could tap TikTok's trove of personal data about millions of U.S. users.

Meanwhile, TikTok has asked its users to contact their lawmakers to oppose the bill's passage, an effort that, according to Eurasia Group director Clayton Allen, appears to have failed to sway opinions in Washington, D.C.

"It's a low-cost exercise if you can access the user base," Allen told CBS MoneyWatch. "But it seems like it has backfired."

Some lawmakers had argued that TikTok's ability to send bulk push notifications to its users, many of them minors, underscored the app's risks.

In a statement, TikTok said it is "unfortunate" that lawmakers are "using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually."
CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane said the Senate is expected to take up the bill as early as Tuesday, although the vote could come on Wednesday.

US President Joe Biden has indicated he would sign the bill, which is primarily focused on providing foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Lawmakers want ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok, but barring such a deal, the legislation would ban the social media app in the US. There are increasingly concerns about the company's ties in China, with fears that ByteDance or TikTok could share data about US users with China's authoritarian government.

"The idea that we would give the Communist Party this much of a propaganda tool, as well as the ability to scrape 170 million Americans' personal data, it is a national security risk," Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said on CBS' "Face the Nation," on Sunday.

If passed, the bill would give TikTok's owner nine months to arrange a sale, with the potential for an additional three-month grace period, according to a copy of the bill released earlier this month.

But Allen of Eurasia Group noted that would put the nine-month mark in mid-to-late January, which could also coincide with the US presidential inauguration. The analyst noted that if former President Donald Trump wins in November, he could very well take a different tack with TikTok.

"This might become a question for the next administration," Allen said. "Looking at the language of the bill, I'm not sure Trump would be as bound to pursue what the Biden administration would want. He could use it as a point of leverage with China."

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