Is U.S. Next In Line to Ban TikTok After Canada?

March 2, 2023

After Canada banned TikTok on Government devices, the U.S. is leading the ban game now. On Thursday, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee decided to grant President Joe Biden the authority to impose the country’s most stringent social media app restrictions by outlawing Chinese-owned TikTok.

By a vote of 24 to 16, lawmakers approved the legislation giving the government new authority to outlaw the ByteDance-owned and other security-risky apps. Over 100 million Americans use this app.

“TikTok is a national security threat … It is time to act,” said Representative Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the committee which sponsored the bill. “Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP (Communist Party of China) a backdoor to all their personal information. It’s a spy balloon into their phone.”

The bill known as Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries (DATA) Act allows the presidential authority to ban foreign applications.

What’s the Opposition’s Reaction?

Democrats opposed the bill, arguing that it needed more time for deliberation and expert input and was rushed. The bill grants Biden the authority to prohibit any transactions with TikTok, which could prevent anyone in the United States from accessing or downloading the app on their phones. The bill is vague about how the ban would operate.

Additionally, the bill would call for Biden to ban any organization that may transfer sensitive personal data to a body under Chinese influence. The committee’s top Democrat, Representative Gregory Meeks, stated that he vehemently opposed the measure but recognized the issues with TikTok.

Meeks remarked that “the Republican instinct to ban things it fears, from books to speech, appears uninhibited” and that the measure would compel the administration to penalize TikTok and other affiliates of TikTok’s parent business.

What Chinese Authorities Have to Say?

After federal workers were instructed to remove the video app TikTok from government-issued phones, China accused the U.S. of overreacting. A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized Washington for abusing state power by arbitrarily cracking down on foreign companies, implying that the U.S. lacked trust in the app.

When asked about the U.S. prohibition on TikTok at a press conference in Beijing, Mao Ning, a representative for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that it is somewhat unconvinced of the U.S. to be so afraid of a mobile app that young people enjoy.

“We firmly oppose the U.S.’ wrong practice of generalizing the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress companies from other countries unreasonably,” Mao said, urging the U.S. to respect fair competition principles and restrict bans on relevant businesses.

What’s in Store for Meta & Snap?

Meta is likely to benefit from TikTok’s ban in the United States. Reels, a TikTok competitor that Facebook has been funding, is still working to develop a business strategy that is as successful as the main newsfeed.

Reels should reach revenue neutrality by the end of the year or in the first quarter of 2024, according to Meta, who stated this during its fourth-quarter earnings conference. Within the last year, the number of video streams on Facebook and Instagram more than doubled.

If TikTok were to go away, there would be more usage and customer base of Instagram Reels. Snapchat’s Spotlight, introduced in 2020, and YouTube Shorts, which came out in 2021, would also benefit.

What to Look For?

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hear testimony from TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew on March 23. He will likely answer inquiries about

  • Data protection
  • Consumer privacy
  • TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese Communist Party 

The company is happy to have the chance to “set the record straight about TikTok, ByteDance, and the commitments we are making to address concerns about U.S. national security,” according to a statement from Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok.

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