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TikTok leaders are pretty surprised that a bill to ban TikTok is zooming through Congress: report

Hannah Getahun   

TikTok leaders are pretty surprised that a bill to ban TikTok is zooming through Congress: report
  • US legislators are again trying to ban TikTok with a bill in the House.
  • TikTok leaders were not expecting the new bill to progress so quickly, per The Wall Street Journal.

A bill to ban TikTok in the US is speeding through Congress and has caught the social media platform off guard, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The new bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, would force Chinese company ByteDance to sell TikTok to non-Chinese owners or face a ban in the United States.

Leaders at TikTok had been tracking the legislation, but were not expecting it to move so quickly through the House, people familiar with the matter told the Journal. The proposed legislation was put up for a vote and unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.

The House is set to vote on the bill on Wednesday.

If it passes, it will move on to the Senate and get one step closer to President Joe Biden. Biden indicated he would sign the ban should it hit his desk, despite having an account on the app himself.

The president joined the app to connect with voters, but his stance could backfire. Polling from the Associated Press shows that 73% of people who use the app at least once a day oppose a ban.

A TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider it expects the bill to pass, saying it had a "predetermined outcome."

"The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression," the company told BI in a statement. "This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country."

The unlikely characters trying to save TikTok

Whether the bill makes it through the Senate is less clear, as Republican Senators like Rand Paul and Lindsay Graham have voiced concerns about it. Others, like former President Donald Trump and Elon Musk, have also weighed in, expressing their opposition to a TikTok ban.

"I don't think we should ban ownership in companies because we don't like some of the different governments that are involved or some of the different countries," Paul told the Journal on Friday.

In the past, Democrats have mostly supported a ban on TikTok, but some legislators have said there should be a focus on other tech giants, like Meta and Google, regarding data privacy laws.

"Here's the reality: asserting that TikTok stands alone as the one platform that poses a serious surveillance threat to our nation's youth is deliberately missing the Big Tech forest for the TikTok trees," Sen. Ed Markey said in a statement last year.

Meanwhile, American business leaders are toying with the idea of buying the app. The Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, said that former Activision CEO Bobby Kotick approached ByteDance cofounder Zhang Yiming about acquiring the app.

Other unnamed sources cited by the Journal said that Kotick also floated the idea to a group of people that included Open AI's Sam Altman.

Representatives for Kotick, OpenAI, ByteDance, and TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by BI outside regular business hours.

The movement to ban TikTok in the US has been pushed by legislators who believe the company will hand over user data to the Chinese government. So far, TikTok has said it would not comply should it receive a request to do so.

In response to the House bill, TikTok went on the offensive and urged its users to contact their representatives to let them know they opposed it.

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