U.S. House Rams Through Bill to Ban TikTok

Chris Menahan
Mar. 13, 2024

The US House on Wednesday rammed through a bill to ban TikTok and give the President the power to ban any other app or website deemed a "national security threat" controlled by a "foreign adversary."

From Reuters, "US House passes bill to force ByteDance to divest TikTok or face ban":
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill on Wednesday that would give TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance about six months to divest the U.S. assets of the short-video app used by about 170 million Americans or face a ban.

The bill passed 352-65, with bipartisan support, but it faces a more uncertain path in the Senate where some favor a different approach to regulating foreign-owned apps that could pose security concerns. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not indicated how he plans to proceed.

[...] "This is a critical national security issue. The Senate must take this up and pass it," No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise said on social media platform X.

Shortly after passage, a bipartisan pair of senators, Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Marco Rubio, issued a joint statement saying they were encouraged by the bipartisan support for the bill and that they "look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Congress took up the ban to advance the interests of Israel, not America:
[Rep. Mike Gallagher's (R-WI)] efforts [to ban TikTok] appeared to stall in 2023, but were revived in part by the fallout from the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, according to people close to TikTok and people close to lawmakers. TikTok's users quickly inundated the platform with videos about the attack and Israel's war on Gaza. Some lawmakers said TikTok appeared to favor pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel content, and renewed calls to ban the app in the U.S.

TikTok's spokeswoman said that the videos that lawmakers are concerned about were created by its users, and the company argued it has been fair in moderating pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian videos.

"Oct. 7 really opened people's eyes to what's happening on TikTok" and its "differential treatment of different topics," said [Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL)], adding that the coming election also fueled concerns. "People are concerned about interference using TikTok."
Furor over pro-Palestine content outperforming pro-Israel content was the catalyst for the ban and a group of Zionist investors headed by former Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and OpenAI's Sam Altman are working behind the scenes to purchase the site and use it for datamining and training AI.

Michael Tracey writes in Newsweek:
If the bill's supporters get what they want, millions of Americans would find their ability to access TikTok terminated by the government, just in time for the November 2024 election. This radical state intervention was endorsed last week by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a unanimous 50-0 vote, establishing a coveted bipartisan consensus in favor of expelling American users from their preferred social media platform. This extreme action is to be carried out, as usual, in the alleged name of "national security," and to more aggressively combat perceived "foreign adversaries."

The bill names TikTok as a "foreign adversary controlled application," with the "adversary" in question being China, but it also goes further and prohibits "applications" associated with the standard litany of official U.S. "adversaries"—Russia, North Korea, and Iran. More additions to the list are always possible, perhaps in the event that Cuba or Venezuela develop a short-form dance video app that becomes suspiciously popular with American teens.

Another provision authorizes the President, who is currently Joe Biden and may soon be Donald Trump, to make unilateral determinations about whether certain applications "present a significant threat to the national security of the United States," and therefore must be banned like TikTok. The criteria for making such a determination is left conspicuously vague.
Senator Rand Paul spoke out against the ban:

Biden has already said he will sign it.

This is the most authoritarian act of state censorship in American history -- affecting 170 million American TikTok users -- and it's being done to advance the interests of Israel, not America.

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