The House Foreign Affairs Committee has voted 24-16 in favour of banning TikTok in the US, advancing a bill that would allow US President Joe Biden to ban the Chinese short-video making app in the country.
The Technological Adversaries Act, or DATA Act, directs Biden to sanction or ban TikTok nationwide if his administration finds that the Chinese firm shared American users’ data with the Chinese government.
If that data was used to surveil, hack, or censor users, Biden could impose additional sanctions against TikTok and its parent-company Bytedance, reports The Verge.
“TikTok is a modern day Trojan horse of the CCP used to surveil and exploit Americans’ personal information,” said Rep Michael McCaul (R-TX).
However, some Democrats and civil liberty groups raised objections on the bill.
Democrat Gregory Meeks (D-NY) called the bill “dangerously overbroad”.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also raised its concerns in a letter sent to McCaul.
“Congress must not censor entire platforms and strip Americans of their constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression. Whether we’re discussing the news of the day, live streaming protests, or even watching cat videos, we have a right to use TikTok and other platforms to exchange our thoughts, ideas, and opinions,” said Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at ACLU.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is likely to appear before the US Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23 over questions related to TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government.
Banned in India, ByteDance-owned TikTok has also been in the news for reportedly stealing US users’ data.
The Chinese short-form video app has been banned on mobile devices issued by the US House of Representatives. The House ordered staff to delete TikTok from all mobile phones.
Canada has become the latest country to ban TikTok from government-issued mobile devices.
The country joined the European Union in banning TikTok on government devices.
The European Commission late last month directed all employees to remove TikTok from their corporate devices.