US legislators cite India, clear bill to regulate Chinese app TikTok ownership

Citing India’s bold move to ban TikTok in 2020, lawmakers in the United States on Wednesday approved a bill in support of legislation about the Chinese app. In a rare moment of unity, the House of Representatives passed by 352 to 65 votes the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, reported Reuters.

The TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone screen in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)

The bill has been co-authored by Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, and Congressman Mike Gallaghe from the Republican party.

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It seeks to control the ownership of foreign apps like TikTok in the US. It gives TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance about six months to divest the US assets of the short-video app, or face a ban, according to Reuters.

“In 2020, India banned 59 Chinese-created apps, including TikTok, emphasizing their priority to defend India’s national security,” a statement by the office of Congressman Greg Murphy said.

“Lack of transparency from TikTok executives and their unwillingness to protect user privacy and information have also encouraged neighboring governments like the European Union and Canada to prohibit the use of the application on government devices,” it added.

The bill now heads to the Senate from where it will be sent to the White House for the President to sign it into law.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jeane-Pierre, however, insisted that the bill does not ban apps like TikTok.

“The National Security Advisor (Jake Sullivan)) was very clear yesterday. He said ‘Do we want private data that Americans have to be here or in China? Do we want companies to be owned here or in China?’ That was what he said. I want to be also very clear here: This bill would not ban apps like TikTok, period. What it would do is to ensure that ownership, as I just stated, of these apps wouldn’t be in the hands of those who can exploit them or do us harm,” Jeane-Pierre said.

According to the Associated Press, TikTok has more than 170 million users in America.

India TikTok ban

In 2020, the Narendra Modi government had banned 59 apps, mostly Chinese, including TikTok citing concerns that these are ‘prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order’.

The ban was imposed days after Indian and Chinese troops had clashed in Galwan Valley.

At the time, TikTok had nearly 200 million users in India, according to Bloomberg.

Besides India, TikTok is banned in Canada, Pakistan, United Kingdom, Australia, and Norway among other countries.

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