TikTok Bill Opposed for Slapdash Pace


The House passed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act which calls for the forced sale of TikTok by its Chinese owner to an American person or entity. 

The legislation, passed by a vote of 352-65.   197 Republican lawmakers voted for the measure and 15 against. On the Democratic side, 155 voted for the bill and 50 against.

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Jim Hines cited the hamfisted tenor of the bill: "I suspect there is a way to address the challenge posed by TikTok that is consistent with our committment to freedom of expression.   But a bill quickly passed by one committee less than one week ago is not the way."

House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gregory Meeks. released a statement following his vote against the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act: 

“Today I voted against legislation that would functionally result in a ban of TikTok, barring a difficult-to-achieve divestiture. The legislation gives broad discretion to the Executive Branch with virtually no congressional oversight, a move that would be unprecedented in American history.

"I am disappointed that instead of putting on the floor the crucial national security supplemental to protect our friends and allies, Speaker Johnson has chosen to act with urgency on a rushed social media bill that is in need of significant revisions.

TikTok in the hands of China is a national security risk. So too is Republican leadership failing to pass a supplemental that would bolster our Indo-Pacific partners and provide crucial funding to Ukraine. I encourage the Senate to converge around more thoughtful legislation that protects American data and does not come with so many harmful consequences.” 

National Security Concerns

Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed in 2020 that CFIUS was reviewing whether then-President Donald Trump could ban TikTok in the U.S. Its members agreed that TikTok cannot operate in the U.S. in its current form because it “risks sending back information on 100 million Americans,” Mnuchin said at the time.

A recent report by James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes China takes advantage of the loophole created by the congressional failure to pass privacy legislation. "The new Executive Order (EO) on data may make this more difficult but will not stop foreign access to American data as the EO strictures can be circumvented."

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer yet to indicate a path to consideration. Lawmakers in the Senate have indicated that the measure will undergo a thorough review. 

The Senate has been considering more comprehensive  legistlation in the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act. [See Story}

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)  contends the Senate bill is much more than a Tik Tok Ban. . “We need a comprehensive, risk-based approach that proactively tackles sources of potentially dangerous technology before they gain a foothold in America, so we aren’t playing Whac-A-Mole and scrambling to catch up once they’re already ubiquitous.”   


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