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TikTok Fights US Ban, Defends Free Speech Rights

Updated: May 9

TikTok

TikTok expressed concerns about free speech on Sunday regarding a bill that the House of Representatives passed. This bill could lead to a ban on TikTok in the U.S. unless its Chinese owner, ByteDance, sells its share within a year. The House approved the bill on Saturday with a vote of 360 to 58. The bill is now headed to the Senate, where it could be voted on soon. President Joe Biden has already said he would sign the bill regarding TikTok.


Many U.S. lawmakers and the Biden administration think TikTok is a national security risk because they worry China could force the company to hand over data from its 170 million U.S. users. TikTok was recently included in a larger foreign aid package. This move could speed up the process of potentially banning TikTok, especially after a previous bill failed to pass in the Senate. TikTok stated it's unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using an important foreign aid bill to push through a ban that could infringe on the free speech of 170 million Americans.


In February, TikTok criticized a bill that later failed in the Senate. TikTok said this bill would limit the voices of millions of Americans. They also argued that a state law banning TikTok in Montana last year went against the First Amendment, which protects free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union also disagreed with the House bill, saying it was against free speech. TikTok has stated that it has never shared U.S. user data and promises it never will.


Democratic Senator Mark Warner, who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that TikTok could be used by the Chinese government to spread propaganda, especially because many young people use TikTok to get news. He believes allowing China to possibly access the personal data of 170 million Americans through TikTok is a security risk.


The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, a group that supports free speech, mentioned that the new bill might not be effective. They pointed out that China and other countries could still buy American data from other sources and use U.S.-based social media for misinformation.


Some Democrats worry that banning TikTok could violate free speech rights and suggest making stronger laws to protect data privacy instead. Democratic Representative Ro Khanna mentioned on ABC News that a TikTok ban might not hold up in court because of these free speech protections.


The House voted on March 13 to give TikTok's owner, ByteDance, about six months to sell its U.S. operations or face a ban. The latest bill passed extends this deadline to nine months, which could be further extended by three months if the president sees progress in the sale.


Maria Cantwell, who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, supports this new bill. She had previously asked for some changes in the March 13 bill. President Biden also discussed concerns about TikTok in a recent call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.


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FAQs

Q1. What is the main reason the U.S. wants to ban TikTok?

The U.S. is concerned that TikTok could be used by the Chinese government to gather personal data from American users and spread propaganda.


Q2. Why do some Democrats oppose banning TikTok?

Some Democrats believe that banning TikTok might violate free speech rights and suggest that stronger data privacy laws would be a better solution.


Q3. What happens if ByteDance doesn't sell TikTok?

If ByteDance doesn't sell TikTok within the given deadline, TikTok could be banned in the U.S.


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