Democrats and Republicans, who disagree on many fronts these days, have teamed up to unveil bipartisan legislation that would ban TikTok across the United States.
Representatives from both sides of the political divide in the House and Senate have spoken out against what they see as a threat to national security.
Those concerns were reflected in a bill unveiled by Republican Senator Marco Rubio that would block “any social media company operating in or being influenced by China and other hostile countries, including Russia.”
it will put Tik Tok Meet outright ban, nuclear option Former President Donald Trump Tries Regarding alleged ties to the Chinese government.
TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance.
But as one of the most popular apps in the US and the world (with over 100 million and 1 billion users respectively), are politicians really willing to forcefully remove it from their citizens’ smartphones?
How will the US enforce the ban?
In accordance with the measures announced by President Rubio joe biden Sanctions may be imposed on TikTok and other social media companies to prevent their commercial operations in the United States.
With 2022 looming, the bill may not be brought to Congress until next year, and its prospects in the House of Representatives have been boosted by a Republican victory in November’s midterm elections.
If the House passes the bill, it will go to the Democratic-controlled Senate.
But Dr Evan Lawrence, senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Central Lancashire, doubts the legislation will go that far.
“Technically you can [ban TikTok]but actually it’s not that useful,” she told Sky News.
“A lot of times legislation like this is used as a negotiating tactic – it’s not really meant to go anywhere, but it’s put on the radar of the media and the public so they have a better negotiating position.”
The U.S. government has been in talks with TikTok’s parent company over regulatory issues for some time, and a spokesman said they were “confident” they could “fully address all legitimate national security concerns of the United States.”
What are those “national security concerns”?
Anti-TikTok rhetoric has intensified since the midterm elections, with FBI Director Chris Wray warning that TikTok’s operations in the United States have raised national security concerns.
Earlier this month, Indiana sues TikTokaccusing it of deceiving its users about China accessing their data.
The governors of Texas, Maryland, South Dakota and South Carolina ordered state agencies to ban the use of TikTok on government-issued devices.
Dr Lawrence said regulation of federal equipment “isn’t a bad thing” given concerns about foreign interference in US elections, “but whether you can do it for the public is another question”.
Can Trump’s old idea make a comeback?
Towards the end of his presidency, Mr Trump suggested ByteDance sell its US operations to US companies like Microsoft.
While Biden reversed his predecessor’s order, he called for a government review of foreign-owned apps, a review that is still ongoing more than a year later.
Thomas Walters, founder of global influencer Billion Dollar Boy, said Trump’s proposed sell-off was now “the most likely outcome”.
“If there’s real bilateral support for this bill then something is bound to happen,” he told Sky News.
“But an outright ban like they have in India is much less likely.
“There’s a real brand love for TikTok right now, it’s used extremely well among younger consumers, and it’s deeply embraced by marketers as well.”
What does TikTok have to say?
TikTok has continued to dismiss those concerns, insisting that its U.S. operations are independent of its parent company and that U.S. user data is safe.
A spokesman described Mr. Rubio’s legislation as “a politically motivated ban that does nothing to advance the national security of the United States.”