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US lawmakers move against ByteDance in push to divest TikTok

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Action has been taken by a group of cross-party US lawmakers to introduce legislation against ByteDance which would force the company to divest its dominant social media platform TikTok or risk a ban in the United States.

The move is driven by fears over national security concerns emanating from TikTok’s Chinese ownership and its links to the Beijing government. It follows previous efforts in Congress to address perceived risks from the video-hosting app with a ruling in late 2022 banning federal employees from using the platform on government-issued devices.

Now, Mike Gallagher, Republican chair of the House of Representatives China select committee has joined with leading Democrat figure, Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi to face down ByteDance.

“This is my message to TikTok, break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” Gallagher stated.

“America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States.”

What is the response to the US action against TikTok?

If approved, the bill would instruct the Chinese tech giant to divest TikTok within 165 days, otherwise, action could be taken to make it unlawful for Apple, Google and other app store providers to offer it to the market.

The seriousness of the confrontation is underlined by the 170 million active users of the app in the US, but ByteDance has slammed the proposed legislation.

“This bill is an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it,” a company spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“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.”

Conversely, a White House National Security Council spokesperson welcomed the bill as “an important and welcome step” commenting that the Biden administration would work together with Congress “to further strengthen this legislation and put it on the strongest possible legal footing.”

Whether anything meaningful comes to fruition in the coming weeks and months remains to be seen in what is election season in the states, and is further clouded by President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign joining TikTok last month.

Image credit: Ideogram

The post US lawmakers move against ByteDance in push to divest TikTok appeared first on ReadWrite.

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