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US House Passes TikTok Bill to Ban Amidst Mounting Concerns

Monday, April 22, 2024 • Tamil Comments
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On April 20, the US House of Representatives approved a bill that may doom TikTok. It's a historic nightmare because, for the first time, the US government would close down an entire social media site if it passed through the US Senate and was signed by President Joe Biden.

The Senate had vowed to vote on the bill this week, and President Biden had already indicated he would sign it into law. Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, sponsored the legislation, emphasizing the need to safeguard all Americans from the "malign influence of Chinese propaganda" on TikTok, with a particular focus on children.

The revised statute followed a March extension request by the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Maria Cantwell, which extended ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, one extra year to divest its stake.

By the time the bill passed, rumors circulated that TikTok was planning to fire Erich Andersen, its US-based general counsel. Andersen has been essential to the response in the United States concerning the concerns raised about the company's link with China. That being said, TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek denied the reports.

Both data collection and concerns about censorship with TikTok's practices have been in play for a while, long enough that Chinese government involvement has become a fear in people's minds. However, TikTok has always brushed it aside, stating that it is entirely independent and cares about the user's privacy.

For example, many people in the business community, such as Meredith Whittaker, who heads the encrypted messaging service Signal, complained about the bill and how it would dilute data protection and surveillance powers. While TikTok addressed some issues, questions about its links to China remain. National intelligence leaders cautioned that Russia might try to interfere in the election.

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