Is TikTok Banned? How and Why New Bill Could Ban TikTok

If passed, the bill would give ByteDance 180 days to fully divest from TikTok or see the app banned across the country.

The United States might be banning TikTok.

Why? Because the app’s parent company ByteDance is based out of Beijing, China, and both political parties perceive this as a potential threat to national security.

It’s bad news for the more than 170 million users across the nation that have been flicking through the video sharing app’s feed over the past six years that the app has existed in the US. But is it justified? Here’s what to know.

What the TikTok Ban Bill Does

The TikTok ban bill was introduced to the House last Tuesday, and it passed its first round of voting on Thursday with a unanimous and bipartisan 50-0 vote. Its name — the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” — sums up the bill’s views toward TikTok.

If passed, the bill would accomplish two things. First, ByteDance would have 180 days to divest TikTok and its other applications. Second, the bill would create a restrictive legal process that would give the executive branch power to prohibit access to apps owned by a “foreign adversary.”

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Next, however, the bill needs to pass the House, pass the Senate, and be signed in by President Biden, who has already stated that he would sign the bill. It’s a far way off from passing the House and the Senate, but its current bipartisan support indicates that it could go the distance.

The Argument for Banning TikTok

Rep. Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the House of Representatives’ select China committee, gave a statement making sure to highlight the “Chinese Communist Party” as his main problem with TikTok:

“This is my message to TikTok: break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users. America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat on the committee and the other representative to present the bill alongside Gallagher, had an even wilder take in the recent hearing. He cited claims that scientists within China are working on mind-reading technology:

“By some reports, it’s even researching mind-reading software to ensure [Chinese Communist Party] officials remain loyal to the party. You can’t make this stuff up. And the CCP is not content to simply experiment on its own soldiers or read the minds of its own officials. They are collecting large quantities of genetic data from Americans.”

The Argument Against Banning TikTok

The US’s past few years of legislative animosity towards TikTok, critics argue, misrepresent the problem in addition to posing a possible First Amendment violation.

According to them, TikTok’s connections to its home country’s government aren’t out of the ordinary compared to the ties seen from other huge US-based social media or tech companies such as Meta and Google. Another concern: The questionable tech-savvy of the US’s aging public servants.

For its part, TikTok highlights the fallout for artists and businesses, saying that Congress’s looming ban would “damage millions of businesses, destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country, and deny artists an audience.”

Countries That Already Have a TikTok Ban

TikTok’s lawyers are undoubtedly keeping busy. They’ve already seen plenty of similar bans, with India’s complete TikTok ban back in 2020 serving as the most high-profile example.

Partial bans are more common, with many governments and agencies around the globe barring their employees specifically from using the app. This includes the Netherlands, the UK, and New Zealand, as well as the EU, NATO, and many individual states within the US.

In some cases, these bans extend to other recreational apps, too: For example, France has banned TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and even Candy Crush from government devices. Wikipedia has the full list.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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