House Passes Bill That Would Ban TikTok Unless it Sells in 165 Days

tiktok ban bill bytedance china sell divest app

The House of Representatives passed a bill that would force TikTok’s Chinese owner to sell the video app in 165 days or face a total ban in the United States.

On Wednesday, the House approved the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support: 352 Congress members voting in favor and only 65 voting against it.

The bill, which was fast-tracked to a vote after being unanimously approved by a committee last week, gives China-based owner ByteDance 165 days to divest from TikTok.

If ByteDance does not sell, app stores including the Apple App Store and Google Play would be legally barred from hosting TikTok or providing web hosting services to other apps controlled by the Chinese parent company.

It will now be considered by the Senate and then Joe Biden, who has indicated that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.

The landslide vote in the House may be the most serious threat to TikTok yet in the continuing political concerns that American user data on the video app could fall into the hands of the Chinese government. The U.S. has voiced fears about the national security risks of TikTok due to a law in China that compels firms to hand over information to Beijing if they are requested to do so.

The Bill contends that ByteDance is effectively under the control of the Chinese government in Beijing — a regime that could demand access to 170 million Americans who use TikTok.

“We have given TikTok a clear choice: separate from your parent company ByteDance, which is beholden to the CCP (the Chinese Communist Party), and remain operational in the United States, or side with the CCP and face the consequences,” Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is among the lawmakers leading the bill, says.

“The choice is TikTok’s.”

The Long Road to a Potential TikTok Ban

However, as The New York Times reports, the bill faces a difficult road to passage in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been noncommittal about bringing it to the floor for a vote and says he will have to consult with relevant committee chairs to determine the bill’s path. Some lawmakers have vowed to fight it.

The Senate would also need to pass the measure for it to move on to President Biden’s desk for final signature, and lawmakers in that chamber indicated it would undergo a thorough review.

In a statement, TikTok says it is unclear if China would even approve any sale or that it could even be divested from in six months.

“This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States,” TikTok says in a statement after the committee vote.

“The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their constitutional right to free expression. This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.