Big Tech /

Intelligence Officials to Brief House Ahead of Vote on TikTok Bill

If passed, the proposed ban would give TikTok six months to divest from Chinese companies

Intelligence Officials to Brief House Ahead of Vote on TikTok Bill

Lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives will meet with intelligence officials to be briefed on TikTok.

Concerns about TikTok, its parent company ByteDance, and potential threats to American security from China prompted a bipartisan push for a ban on the video-sharing app.

The briefing comes ahead of a vote on the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which would designate ByteDance and TikTok as platforms controlled by a foreign adversary and prohibit popular social media platforms’ availability in America. It would also empower the president to designate other apps as being foreign-adversary controlled. 

To continue operating in America, TikTok would need to sever any ties with Bejing-based ByteDance within six months.

The briefing, scheduled for 1 P.M. on March 12, will involve officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to The Hill.

The bill was co-sponsored by Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher, a Republican, and Illinois Congresswoman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat. Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi lead the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. 

“America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States,” Gallagher said in a statement on March 6. “TikTok’s time in the United States is over unless it ends its relationship with CCP-controlled ByteDance.”

The Biden Administration has praised the proposal, claiming it a “durable legislative solution” that addresses “the threat of technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to Americans’ sensitive data and our broader national security.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted in favor of the bill 50-0 on March 7.

Roughly 170 million people in the U.S. use TikTok. They received messages from the company asking that they contact their representatives and ask them to vote against the bill.

“This will damage millions of businesses, destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country, and deny artists an audience,” the message said, per Mashable

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew denied that the company shares user data with the Chinese Communist Party while testifying before Congress in 2023.

He said the company doesn’t have a policy to ask individual employees about their party affiliations in China, but pointed out that ByteDance CEO Liang Rubo is not a member of the party. A key question for members of the committee seemed to be whether TikTok could uphold American values while being a subsidiary of a Chinese company,” reported CNBC. “Lawmakers and intelligence officials fear that Chinese government officials could access U.S. user data from ByteDance through a Chinese law that allows officials to obtain company information for purported national security reasons.”

Former President Donald Trump said on March 11 that TikTok was a threat to national security but its ban would strengthen other social media companies like Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram. He also warned about the backlash from young Americans, who make up the majority of TikTok’s users.

"There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who will go crazy without it," Trump said, per Reuters. "There's a lot of good and there's a lot of bad with TikTok."

*For corrections please email [email protected]*