Is the US House bill on TikTok actually a ban? 

March 13 – The bill that will be voted on today in the US House of Representatives concerning TikTok has certainly gotten a lot of attention and one of the big questions is could it actually result in the app being banned in the US?

The legislation, if passed, would require ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, to divest the app so that a US company could purchase it. 

It looks like the votes are there to pass this in the House. The bill will then move to the Senate. President Joe Biden has said if it gets to his desk, he will sign it. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “That’s why a lot of the reporting, I think they’re carefully using the words that it would effectively be a ban because a lot of the Wall Street reporting is that this bill would require ByteDance to divest TikTok, meaning that a US company would have to buy to keep it operating. So it’s not a per se ban, but the Wall Street reporting is they’re not aware of any US companies that are going to go in for this because there’s just so much controversy around it and if no US company picks it up, well, then effectively it does become a ban.”

The vote will happen today in the House. 

Barkdoll said, “It does still look like the votes are going to be there to pass this, notwithstanding Donald Trump’s statement on Monday morning that he’s now opposed to this bill. It’s much less certain in the Senate. You’ve had some key Senators now come out saying that they will not support this, but then you have a bipartisan group of other Senators saying yeah, we need to do this. The national security threat supersedes everything. Remember Biden, he’s kind of taken a hands off approach to this. He’s just saying he will sign it if Congress passes it. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens today.”

Reporting is there are more than 300 Representatives prepared to vote yes to support this legislation. 

Barkdoll noted, “That’s the number to watch. Do they get up to that number? If it’s a much lower number that confirms the influence that Trump still had based on his statements Monday.”

The owners of TikTok are saying a forced separation would destroy their business and they’re citing First Amendment rights. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “They thought everything was fine. They didn’t realize that this was such a strong push to have this legislation be real and they’re scrambling, because I hate the idea that they’re telling their TikTok audience to contact Congress. This is a ridiculous thing to have a bunch of teenagers and people who just love this social media, probably for the addictive thing it is, being the ones to influence our lawmakers about this, if there are truly national security threats, which I think there is. Also disturbing is the report that there’s parts of this legislation that state that the federal government could force the sale of any social media platform that interferes in elections. How well defined is this so-called interference in elections? We see how that’s been used narrowly, or very broadly, depending upon which side is putting this forth at any given moment.”

Barkdlol said, “TikTok has hired, among others, Kellyanne Conway who is the lead lobbyist that is working for TikTok trying to argue don’t pass this. Some of the national security things keep coming out about this company, though the Chinese infiltration of this company, and you think about the number I saw yesterday was over 40% of millennials, use TikTok as their primary means of information and news. Think about the disinformation that a nefarious person could sew if they would want to disseminate bad things across that platform. That’s where you get into dangerous scenarios.”