Joe Biden in front of red to blue TikTok gradient background

Shag 7799/Shutterstock Phoenix 1319/Shutterstock rvlsoft/Shutterstock (Licensed) by Caterina Cox

House Republicans are trying to goad Biden into banning TikTok

The bill, granting Biden the power to ban TikTok, was opposed by every Democrat on the committee.

 

Mikael Thalen

Tech

President Joe Biden could have the power to ban the Chinese-owned app TikTok after legislation aimed at giving him the authority to do so passed the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

The bill, which was backed by all of the panel’s Republicans and opposed by all its Democrats, passed in a 24-16 vote. Such powers would give the administration the ability to not only ban TikTok but other apps deemed a national security risk.

TikTok has repeatedly come under scrutiny given its data practices toward Americans. Many fear the app could be transmitting sensitive data to the Chinese Communist government. The concerns led the White House just this week to give government agencies 30 days to make sure that TikTok is removed from any and all federally-owned devices such as computers or laptops.

As noted by Reuters, over 30 U.S. states, along with Canada and numerous European Union policy institutions, have also instituted similar bans regarding TikTok and government devices.

The bill, known as the Dettering America’s Technological Adversaries (DATA) Act, was first introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

McCaul also tweeted quotes from prominent Democrats who previously called TikTok a national security threat, demanding they to act.

While Republicans celebrated the bill as a step in the right direction, Democrats such as Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-.N.Y) argued that the move could “undercut core American values of free speech and free enterprise.”

The ACLU also pushed back on the legislation’s passing on Wednesday in remarks on social media.

“This bill is a serious violation of our First Amendment rights,” the civil liberties group tweeted. “Congress must vote NO on this vague, overbroad, and unconstitutional legislation.”

Although the bill passed its first hurdle, it is far from guaranteed. The measure still needs to be passed by both the House and the Democrat-controlled Senate before it can reach Biden’s desk.

In response to Wednesday’s vote, a TikTok spokeswoman likewise stated that banning the app would only serve to harm the export of American culture.

“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,” the spokeswoman said.

The vote comes shortly after TikTok announced that it would be introducing a feature for minors that would attempt to limit them to 60 minutes of time on the app per day, although major loopholes in the feature make it easy to bypass.

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