House Passes Bill Cracking Down on Chinese-Owned TikTok

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)
March 13, 2024

The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would crack down on TikTok, in a massive defeat for the Chinese-owned app.

Rep. Mike Gallagher's (R., Wis.) Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act represents the most aggressive action Congress has taken against the social media platform. The bill—which passed the House with 352 votes in favor, 65 against, and 1 abstention—would force TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to divest from it, lest the federal government prohibit American app stores from carrying it.

"It would force a separation," Gallagher said last week on Fox News. "The core concern is the ownership structure. As long as TikTok is owned by ByteDance, and ByteDance is indisputably beholden to the Chinese Communist Party, the risk is that our foremost adversary controls the news in America—because most Americans under the age of 30 aren't just using this to promote weird dance videos. It's to get their news, so it would compel a divestiture. Think of it as a surgery designed to remove the tumor from the patient and thereby save it."

Proponents have also cited national security concerns from the app, which is banned on federal government devices. TikTok, on the other hand, has argued that the bill would impact small businesses and infringe on rights to freedom of expression.

"This process was secret and the bill was jammed through for one reason: it's a ban," the company said on X in response to the vote. "We are hopeful that the Senate will consider the facts, listen to their constituents, and realize the impact on the economy, 7 million small businesses, and the 170 million Americans who use our service."

TikTok has also claimed that many lawmakers have described the bill as a ban of the app and said that their goal is to ban the platform.

Wednesday's vote comes after the House Committee on Energy and Commerce unanimously voted last week to advance the bill, as TikTok urged users to call their congressional representatives and demand they vote against it.