TikTok, the most widely used and downloaded app around the world, may soon be facing a ban in the United States. Such bans have been threatened by major US government officials for almost three years now, due to concerns regarding its Chinese parent company. New bipartisan legislation in the Senate would expand federal authority to block certain companies and applications from operating in the US based on their perceived threat to national security. The White House has openly endorsed the new bill, signaling that President Biden is likely to sign it if passed by both houses of Congress.
Even without a ban, Tiktok’s competitors have been gradually breaking off chunks of its dominant market share in the short-form video market, rolling out copycat services that now boast billions of daily views. TikTok still garners more revenue from in-app purchases than Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter combined, but sales that are derived from the US could flow to other social media firms if TikTok can no longer operate in the American market.
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An outright ban of the short-form video app TikTok is now very much on the table, following the White House’s open endorsement of a new bipartisan bill that appears to give President Biden’s administration the authority to ban it in the United States. The bipartisan bill, dubbed the RESTRICT Act (Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology), is led by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and co-sponsored by 12 other Democratic and Republican Senators. It would empower the Secretary of Commerce to block foreign technologies and companies from operating in the US if they present a threat to national security.
TikTok is a subsidiary of its Chinese parent company ByteDance, which has spurred fears that the Chinese government may be able to access Americans’ data without their consent. TikTok has denied that it shares users’ data with ByteDance but investigations by media outlets have unearthed evidence to the contrary. Chinese law gives its government broad-reaching authority to access user data of entities operating within the country. Reuters notes that TikTok and the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States CFIUS have been negotiating for more than two years on data security requirements, which has allegedly cost TikTok more than $1.5 billion due to rigorous data security efforts. As of now, it appears patience is running out within the US government and the executive branch may be happier to block the app from American audiences entirely.
“This bill presents a systematic framework for addressing technology-based threats to the security and safety of Americans,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement on Tuesday, endorsing the legislation. “We look forward to continue working with both Democrats and Republicans on this bill, and urge Congress to act quickly to send it to the President’s desk,” he added…
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