The Details on the TikTok “Ban” Bill

Who wrote it, what it does, and why lawmakers think it’s needed.

What’s happening: The House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would force the sale of TikTok. But the quickly-passed bill has proven to be confusing for some and is still hotly debated.

Why it matters: Nearly one-third of American adults under 30 get their news from TikTok. It’s important to understand the details of a bill that could ultimately lead to that platform’s elimination.

Who wrote the bill? Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced the bill, formally titled the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, with over 50 bipartisan cosponsors.

What the bill does: The bill forces ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to divest from the app, labeling the Chinese ByteDance as being controlled by a “foreign adversary.” TikTok would be banned from the U.S. market if ByteDance refuses to sell within six months.

The debate: The bill will limit adversarial control of major web platforms with at least one million monthly users. For a forced sale to commence, a company must be controlled by a foreign adversary, be organized in an adversary country, or have 20 percent of its stock owned by a company organized in an adversary country; mostly transparent criteria.

  • However, the bill’s skeptics believe the definition of a company under adversarial influence can be abused.

  • Those who support the bill, including many Trump allies, argue this is the exact bill they wanted during his administration and that the wording is as good as it gets.

Security concerns: TikTok has been considered a massive security issue, as China’s government effectively controls ByteDance. TikTok was also found to record its users’ every keystroke, even outside the app. There is evidence that China can view data through backdoors built into TikTok.

The bill’s future: The path for the bill is unclear in the Senate, though the White House is pushing lawmakers to move quickly and pass it. TikTok is lobbying aggressively against it. It could be weeks before decisions are made.