A U.S. House committee advanced a bipartisan bill Thursday that would ban TikTok from U.S. app stores unless the company is sold by its parent company ByteDance.

If this bill passes, ByteDance would have six months to sell TikTok or else U.S. users would not be able to download the app from stores like Google or Apple. The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to pass the bill.

The legislation purports “to protect the national security of the United States from the threat posed by foreign adversary controlled applications.”

“TikTok is owned by a company that China’s government controls, and that is a big problem for data security and national security,” said Curtis. “Through Congressional investigations, including the CEO testifying himself in the Energy and Commerce Committee, it has become clear this structure is unsustainable. I fully support this bill requiring TikTok to divest from its Chinese Communist Party affiliated parent company. This is the best option to ensure the platform remains available while protecting user data.”

A spokesperson for TikTok, responding to a request for comment from the Deseret News, said, “This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States. The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their constitutional right to free expression.”

“This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. ByteDance did not immediately return a request for comment.

In remarks at the beginning of the meeting, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said the bill was “a targeted approach” to protect U.S. security, claiming that it will prevent data brokers from selling Americans’ information to “foreign adversaries.”

Rodgers said, “the app is able to collect nearly every data point imaginable — from people’s location, to what they search on their devices, who they are connecting with, and other forms of sensitive information.”

Ranking member Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said social media companies should be treated as “modern-day media companies.”

Explaining his comments, Pallone said foreign investments in such companies should be subject to scrutiny. He compared it to the Communications Act requiring the FCC to evaluate radio broadcast and television licenses to prevent foreign propaganda from appearing on those programs.

Pallone said Chinese laws compel companies to share data with the government and he is concerned that American data could be shared with the Chinese Communist Party government.

Rodgers referenced the Department of Justice’s investigation of TikTok for alleged surveillance of American citizens including journalists.

When testifying before the U.S. House last year, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew denied that the company sells data to third-party data brokers.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said on Thursday morning he supported the legislation, according to Politico. “TikTok will continue to survive,” he said. “But the basic ownership structure has to change. That’s the message we’ve heard from every single national security official in the Biden administration right now.”

The White House has also indicated support of the bill.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told media that the administration worked with Congress members from both sides of the aisle to address a perceived national security threat and to protect American’s data.

“We don’t see this as banning these app — that’s not what this is — but by ensuring that their ownership isn’t the hands of those who may do us harm.”

If the bill passes both the House and the Senate, then it would mark a milestone — the first significant bill passed on a federal level to restrict TikTok.

Politicians on Capitol Hill have tried their hand at banning the app unsuccessfully. A bill known as the RESTRICT Act would have given President Joe Biden’s administration the power and ability to ban the app, but the bill didn’t pan out.


Former President Donald Trump also attempted to sanction the app.

Trump issued an executive order that would prevented any transactions between ByteDance and U.S. citizens, citing national security threats. In practice, this likely would have meant that ByteDance would have had to sell TikTok to an American company or the app would have been removed.

The courts blocked the order.

In the coming months, it’ll become clear if this latest House bill has staying power.

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