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The US House of Representatives wants to force Biden to sell TikTok

The US House of Representatives wants to force Biden to sell TikTok

As of: March 13, 2024 5:13 PM

The US House of Representatives is hardening its course towards Chinese company Bytedance: The chamber of Congress passed a law forcing the transfer of ownership of its short video app TikTok. But the US Senate has the final say.

The US House of Representatives wants to legally force TikTok's Chinese owner to sell the popular video site. The proposal has now cleared its first hurdle in the chamber of Congress. It was approved with a majority of 352 votes.

The bill now heads to the US Senate, where positions are still unclear. Some influential senators have spoken out against the bill. US President Joe Biden has already made it clear that he will sign this legislation.

Bytatens has 180 days to sell

The law could lead to TikTok being banned from US app stores if Chinese parent company Bytedance doesn't sell its short-video app within 180 days. Bydatense is seen by all parties in the United States as a Chinese entity that must bow to the will of the Chinese Communist Party. The company is suspected of providing access to user data to the government in Beijing.

TikTok claims to have 170 million users in the US. The company denies any ties to the Chinese government. The company also promised to restructure itself so that user data resides in the US. TikTok chief Shou Zi Chew traveled to Washington before the vote to try to block the draft's passage at the last minute.

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Beijing talks about bullying

According to a media report, Bytatens is committed to exhausting all legal remedies against the impending ban in the US before considering a sale. A split from TikTok is considered a last resort, financial services firm Bloomberg wrote on Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Ahead of the vote, Beijing criticized the proposed law as “bullying behavior” and vaguely warned that the approach would “inevitably cause trouble for the United States.”

The US Constitution can block the ban

Skeptics point out that the law will keep the courts busy for years, as it would undermine the freedom of speech enshrined in the US Constitution. Although US federal authorities have now banned TikTok from the company's cellphones due to data security concerns, there have been no previous attempts to ban the app nationwide.

While US president, Donald Trump tried to force TikTok to sell its US business to US investors with sanctions threats. But the plan failed as US courts suspected the plans to ban TikTok violated the freedom of speech enshrined in the US Constitution. A current law banning TikTok from app stores in the state of Montana is also on hold.

A 180 degree turn from Trump

Despite the debate about banning TikTok, US President Biden only made his own debut on the platform, which is particularly popular among young people, four weeks ago. Meanwhile, his predecessor Trump, who is challenging Biden in the 2024 presidential election, has made a 180-degree turn in his approach to the messenger.

On Monday, he spoke on CNBC against the TikTok ban, arguing that it would only strengthen American online giant Meta and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. At the same time, the right-wing populist denied that his position on TikTok had only changed because Biden's investor, Jeff Yass, supported his election campaign with donations.