US House panel passes bill giving Biden power to ban TikTok

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 24 to 16 on Wednesday to grant administrative powers to the president Joe Biden to ban Chinese-owned social media app TikTok and others.

This would be one of the significant reforms of social media apps by the US government.

The ByteDance-owned TikTok and other apps believed to pose security risk. Currently, the app is used by more than 100 million Americans, which has come under debates over fears of data breach by the Chinese government.

Democrats have opposed the Bill in the house, saying it was rushed and required due diligence through debate and consultation with experts.

The Bill does not clarify that how the ban on apps would work out, but it gives Mr. Biden power to put a complete ban related to any transactions with TikTok, which would mean anyone in the US cannot access or download the app on their phones.

Michael McCaul said, “TikTok is a national security threat … It is time to act,” who is the Republican chair of the committee who sponsored the Bill.

McCaul further said, “Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP [Communist Party of China] a backdoor to all their personal information. It’s a spy balloon into their phone”.  

The bill is still under uncertainty as it would need to be passed by the full House and US Senate before it can become a law. This would have many challenges as the House and US Senate is controlled by Democrats.

After the news of ban came, a TikTok spokesperson said, “A U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion people who use our service worldwide”.

So far, the Biden administration hasn’t clarified about moving ahead with the Bill or not, saying only that it has previously raised concerns about apps like TikTok.

“We’ll continue to look at other actions that we can take, and include — that includes how to work with Congress on this issue further,” said White House spokeswoman Olivia Dalton.

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