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The House is getting ready to approve a bill that might stop TikTok, but it might not pass in the Senate

A bill expected to pass the House on Wednesday could lead to a ban of TikTok in the United States, due to concerns about the company’s ownership structure being a threat to national security. The bill would require the […]

By KEVIN FREKING (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — The House is expected to pass a bill on Wednesday that could result in a ban of the popular video app TikTok in the United States. Lawmakers are concerned that the way the company is owned could be a danger to national security.

The bill would make the Chinese firm ByteDance sell TikTok and other apps it owns within six months of the bill becoming law. If they don't, those apps would not be allowed. The lawmakers say ByteDance is controlled by the Chinese government, which could ask for access to the data of TikTok’s users in the U.S. at any time. They are worried because of some Chinese national security laws that force organizations to help with intelligence gathering.

The House passing the bill would be just the first step. The Senate also has to pass it for it to become law, and lawmakers in the Senate said it would be looked at carefully. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he will have to talk with the right committee leaders to decide what will happen to the bill.

President Joe Biden has said that if Congress approves the bill, he will sign it.

The House vote is likely to start a new fight between lawmakers and the tech industry. Congress members have often criticized tech companies and their big influence, and have argued with the people in charge about how the industry works. But by focusing on TikTok, lawmakers are singling out a platform that many people, especially young ones, like, just a few months before an election.

Before the House vote, a top national security person in the Biden administration had a meeting on Tuesday with lawmakers to talk about TikTok and how it could be a problem for national security. Lawmakers are trying to balance these security worries and also the wish to not limit free speech on the internet.

“What we’ve tried to do here is be very thoughtful and careful about the need to make TikTok sell without giving any power to the executive branch to control what is on the app or to go after any American company,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, who wrote the bill, after the meeting.

TikTok has always said that it could not be used by the Chinese government. The company has said it has not shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities and won’t do it if they ask. So far, the U.S. government also has not shown any proof that TikTok gave this information to the Chinese. The app has about 170 million users in the U.S.

The meeting about security did not change many people's minds, but it made the views of both sides stronger.

“We have a responsibility for national security to stop America’s biggest enemy from being so involved in our lives,” said Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y.

But Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., said nothing has made him think that TikTok is a threat to national security. “I still have the same opinion after the meeting,” he said.

Garcia said it's crazy to ban small business owners and entrepreneurs, which is the main way young people communicate.

Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif, said that nothing in today’s classified briefing about TikTok was unique, as it happens on every social media platform.

Republican leaders swiftly brought up the bill after its introduction last week. A House committee unanimously approved the legislation, even after getting many calls from TikTok users asking them to drop the effort. Some offices even shut off their phones due to the high number of calls.

Lawmakers in both parties want to address various issues related to China. The House created a special committee to focus on China-related issues, and Schumer instructed committee chairs to work with Republicans on a bipartisan China competition bill.

Senators are willing to consider the bill, but they don't want to rush ahead.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, doesn't see moving fast in technology as a good thing, as history shows it leads to many mistakes.

House Republicans pushing the legislation are creating a difference from former President Donald Trump as he seeks another term in the White House.

Trump has opposed the effort, believing TikTok poses a national security risk but being against banning the app because it would benefit its rival, Facebook.

When he was president, Trump tried to ban TikTok through an executive order, citing it as a threat to national security, foreign policy, and the economy, but the courts blocked the action after TikTok sued, arguing it would violate free speech and due process rights.

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