Politics | April 4th, 2024

What to know about the Bill Banning TikTok

By: Brianna Leonard | Staff Writer
What to know about the Bill Banning TikTok

Since the Trump administration attempted to issue an emergency power block on the app in 2020, the United States Government has been attempting to ban TikTok.  After multiple failed attempts, a new bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives that, if signed, could ban the use of TikTok in the states.  

 While there is no guarantee it will be made law, things are not looking good for the popular video app. It is currently in the Senate, and if it passes, President Biden has confirmed that he will sign it into law.  

 Why does the U.S. want to ban TikTok? 

 One of the main reasons why several U.S. officials want the app gone is National Security. TikTok was launched by Chinese company ByteDance. It has been based in China since it was founded in 2012, and like most Chinese companies, ByteDance is legally obligated to have an in-house Communist Party committee made up of party member employees.  

 ByteDance is also required to allow the Chinese government to take out a “golden share,” which means the Chinese government owns 1% of the domestic unit of the company. 

 On top of the security concerns, there are several different issues that U.S. government officials have with the app. Addictiveness, misinformation, children’s safety and data security were touched on in the Congressional Hearing in 2023.  

 The first attempt to ban the app was made by Former President Trump in August 2020. Trump issued an executive order that banned transactions that placed TikTok in mobile app stores. This attempt was blocked by a federal judge in December 2020, who was the second judge to rule against the administration’s ban. 

 However, there is a chance that the new ban created by the Biden Administration could succeed. 

 Summary of the New Bill 

 If passed, H.R. 7521 will make it unlawful to distribute, maintain or update a “foreign adversary-controlled application” in the United States.  

 If a U.S. user requests it, the entity controlling the app will provide that user with all their available data in a machine-readable format. To be exempt from this, the app in question must be sold so that that adversary is no longer controlling it.  

 If any entity violates these requirements, they will either be subject to pay a civil penalty, or the Attorney General shall pursue enforcement.  

 What does this mean for the future?  

 Many concerns have been brought forward regarding this bill. One common argument against H.R. 7521 is Freedom of speech. 

 This is not the first time a TikTok ban has been passed by lawmakers. In May 2023, Montana became the first state to pass a complete ban. However, in November 2023, a federal judge blocked the law, ruling that it violated the First Amendment. That same year, however, the opposite happened in Texas 

 A law passed in Texas prohibiting using TikTok on federal devices and devices connected to state networks. When a lawsuit was filed against it, claiming the law violated the First Amendment, a U.S. judge ruled in favor of the ban. 

 If this bill passes the Senate and is signed by President Biden, it is difficult to say what the outcome will be. Will U.S. courts block it in defense of Freedom of Speech? Will the courts say that there is no violation happening? Will ByteDance be forced to sell the app to keep it in American app stores? Knowing this country’s judiciary system, it could go either way.