For some months now, the possibility of TikTok being banned in the United States has been increasing. The initiative, which was started by former US President Donald Trump (but was never carried out), began to materialize at the end of the year, when the US House of Representatives vetoed the use of the app on official devices (and was recently seconded by the European Commission and the United Kingdom).
Now, TikTok’s worst nightmare could come true. U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul introduced a bill this week that would give President Joe Biden the ability to ban the app.
Known as the Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries (DATA) Act, the bill was fast-tracked to a vote by the Republican Party, whose members voted in favor, while the Democrats voted against it. The bill must still be voted on by the rest of the House and passed in the Senate before it reaches President Biden.
Quoting Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, the bill introduced by McCaul expresses concerns about TikTok on U.S. soil: “Its parent company is controlled by the Chinese government. And that gives them the potential to leverage the app in ways that I think we should be concerned about.”
Although ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has repeatedly denied that the company shares U.S. user data with the Chinese government, and recently opened the app’s API to more researchers who wanted to corroborate it, the potential dangers of its algorithm and the spying by some ByteDance employees on several U.S. journalists, among other reasons, fueled a fire that is far from being extinguished.
In a statement sent to TechCrunch, TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter expressed her “disappointment” at this news: “We are disappointed to see this hasty piece of legislation move forward, despite its considerable negative impact on the free speech rights of millions of Americans who use and love TikTok,” she said. “A U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the more than one billion people who use our service around the world.”