US Lawmakers May Change TikTok Ban Bill After its ‘Aggressive Lobbying’

TikTok app with USA and China flags

U.S. lawmakers are considering making changes to the bill that would give the Biden administration new powers to ban Chinese-owned TikTok — after the company’s “aggressive lobbying.”

Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee who co-sponsored the legislation that would help “ban or prohibit” foreign technology such as TikTok, made the comments to Reuters today.

Warner told Reuters that aggressive lobbying by ByteDance-owned TikTok against the legislation “slowed a bit of our momentum” after the “Restrict Act” bill was first introduced in March.

Warner says lawmakers now have “a proposal on a series of amendments to make it explicitly clear” and address criticisms, including that individual Americans could be impacted or that the bill represents a broad expansion of government power.

“We can take care of those concerns in a fair way,” Warner says.

If passed, the “Restrict Act” would give President Biden authority to ban or force a sale of foreign-owned technologies, applications, software, or e-commerce platforms if they present a national security threat to U.S users.

Federal officials are particularly concerned that American user data on TikTok could fall into the hands of the Chinese government, due to a law in China that compels firms to hand over information to Beijing if they are requested to do so. TikTok is used by more than 100 million Americans.

According to a new Pew Research Center survey published yesterday, almost 60% of Americans now consider TikTok to be a threat to national security in the U.S.

The Barriers to a TikTok Ban

But Warner’s comments to Reuters today reveal the challenges the U.S. faces if lawmakers attempt a nationwide ban of TikTok — something which has become a real possibility in recent months.

In May, Montana officially become the first state to completely ban the Chinese-owned video app in the U.S.

However, hours after Montana’s total ban was signed into law, a group of five TikTok users filed a high-profile lawsuit against the state seeking to overturn the legislation.

Last week, TikTok finally admitted to quietly bankrolling the lawsuit brought by the users against Montana’s state-wide ban on the video-sharing app — a detail that the company failed to mention previously.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.