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House overwhelmingly voted for bill that could ban TikTok in US

The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill that could remove TikTok from US app stores.

The vote succeeded 352-65, with the majority of nos coming from Democrats on Wednesday.

If the bill becomes law it will require the Chinese firm Bytedance to divest from TikTok and other applications that it owns within 180 days. If ByteDance does not divest, TikTok would be removed from US app stores.

Legislators have argued that Bytedance could give the Chinese government access to TikTok user’s data, pointing to national security laws that require companies to help with intelligence gathering.

The bill will now require a successful US Senate vote and subsequent Presidential signature to become law.

Despite its overwhelming success, the bill also received bipartisan opposition.

Representative Jim Himes, a Democrat and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was not in favour of the potential ban that could result from the bill. Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar told The Independent she was not convinced to vote yes even after a national security briefing.

Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene also voted no, telling The Independent it could have unintended consequences for social media use.

Key Points

  • The House has now passed a bill that could ban TikTok. What happens next?

  • Some legislators concerned that bill unnecessarily targets single social media platform

  • WATCH: Majorie Taylor Greene opposes House vote on TikTok legislation

Hello and welcome...

12:05 , Andrew Griffin

... to The Independent’s live coverage of the vote on a TikTok ban – which could begin the process of blocking it across the US.

Republicans will commit to vote – despite Trump’s concerns

12:11 , Reuters

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives vowed on Tuesday to forge ahead with a vote to ban the popular TikTok social media app, despite the concerns of Donald Trump, who holds great influence over their slim House majority.

House Speaker Mike Johnson is due to bring legislation to the floor on Wednesday that addresses Chinese ownership of TikTok, which Republicans and Democrats say poses a national security risk to the United States. The bill would give TikTok‘s Chinese owner, ByteDance, about six months to divest the video app used by 170 million Americans.

That is coming despite former president and Republican candidate Trump’s public comments in recent days opposing the bill, which he said could benefit Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook and Instagram services.

“I don’t want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better. They are a true Enemy of the People!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform last week.

So far this year, Trump opposition has led House Republicans to scuttle a bipartisan bill negotiated in the Senate meant to address record flows of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border and helped stymie a bipartisan Senate aid package to Ukraine.

The TikTok bill last week passed out of committee with a rare unanimous bipartisan 50-0 vote.

Representative Chip Roy, a prominent Republican hardliner and Trump ally who is co-sponsoring the bill, acknowledged the former president’s concerns about other social platforms but said the House needs to act anyway.

“It’s not weighing on my mind,” the Texas Republican told reporters. “He’re trying to be very careful about American-owned companies, and not have the power of government overstep, but to focus here on (the Chinese government) targeting our people.”

House members of both parties got a classified briefing about TikTok on Tuesday from the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence officials.

“We’ve answered a lot of questions from members. We had a classified briefing today so that members can see even more details about what’s at risk and how the CCP can jeopardize the risk to American families,” Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise told reporters.

Johnson and Scalise ignored questions about Trump’s concerns.

Lawmakers have also been deluged with calls from teenage TikTok users who oppose the legislation, which some said have eclipsed those seeking a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

“A lot of them are calling, so it’s clogged up the people that want a ceasefire. They’ve overcome the ceasefire,” Democratic Representative Steve Cohen told reporters.

The company is also lobbying Congress against the bill, saying TikTok is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government and warning that divestiture could jeopardize the security of U.S. data.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Trump continued to rail about Facebook but also acknowledged concerns about a national security risk.

“There’s a lot of good and there’s a lot of bad with TikTok,” Trump said.

Democratic President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has embraced TikTok as a way to reach young voters, while the Trump campaign so far has avoided the platform.

But Biden has also said he would sign the legislation if it passes the House and Senate.

Republican Representative Ben Cline said he backs the bill, despite Trump’s opposition, saying, “Everybody’s got their opinion about it. He’s got a right to have his opinion.”

Trump opposes TikTok ban

12:14 , Andrew Griffin

Donald Trump, who had helped kickstart discussion of a ban on TikTok in the last days of his presidency, has indicated that he has reversed his stance.

In an interview earlier this week, he said that an outright ban would only help Facebook, which he said was an “enemy of the people”. And he expressed concern that “young kids” would go “crazy without it”.

You can read the full story here.

Will TikTok be banned today?

12:42 , Andrew Griffin

No, is the short answer. Not yet.

This just begins the process. It needs the Senate to approve the Bill and Joe Biden to sign it, first. And then it allows Bytedance six months to divest itself, which would avoid the ban entirely.

So today is just the beginning of a very long process.

Today’s vote has a ‘big obstacle'

13:38 , Andrew Griffin

The vote today has a high threshold to cross, says Eric Garcia, The Independent’s Washington bureau chief. It will happen under “Suspension of the Rules” – which means that two-thirds of the House will need to back it, rather than the usual majority.

“The House vote on legislation that would require TikTok’s parent company faces numerous hurdles. But perhaps the biggest obstacle it faces is the fact the vote will happen under a formerly obscure procedure called suspension of the rules,” he writes.

“Typically, the House votes on a rule before it votes on legislation. Rules votes determine the parameters of debate and how the vote will take place. But in recent months, House conservatives have revolted against Republican leadership by voting down the rule. As a result, the House has often voted to suspend the rule so the House can have a vote.”

Numbers show why a total block could be so devastating

13:44 , Andrew Griffin

TikTok has grown fast, and is now one of the most widely used and positively views apps available. That could make any possible ban difficult and controversial.

Read the full story – with a host of fascinating charts – here.

Robert F Kennedy opposes ban

13:51 , Andrew Griffin

Robert F Kennedy, who hopes to be president, has indicated that he will oppose the ban.

13:52 , Andrew Griffin

Lawmakers are now debating the bill – with impassioned arguments from both sides.

Opponents of TikTok say that it is dangerously close to the Chinese government, and that the app could be used to spy on American citizens.

Proponents say that despite the concerns about privacy and misinformation, it provides a useful tool to Americans, and that it is unfair to ban only TikTok.

You can watch them here.

AOC says bill is ‘rushed'

13:53 , Andrew Griffin

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that there are “serious antitrust and privacy questions”, but that the bill was rushed. She won’t be supporting it.

Lawmakers describe ban as a ‘band aid'

13:54 , Andrew Griffin

One of the common arguments by opponents of the new bill is that it is really just a superficial response to the bigger concerns: the Chinese government could still spread misinformation and gather data if it wanted to, they have noted.

They have also argued that it could do significant damage to the people who rely on it. And they say that there is a free speech concern in allowing any future president to ban apps.

Bill is ‘not an attempt to ban TikTok’, says Pelosi

13:56 , Andrew Griffin

Nancy Pelosi has said the bill is “not an attempt to ban TikTok” but rather a move to fix it.

(The bill does not actually ban the app immediately. It requires parent company Bytedance to divest – or face the threat of a ban in six months.)

Could the US ban TikTok?

13:57 , Andrew Griffin

Here’s a rundown of how the bill works – and what might happen if it passes.

Data could still be used

13:59 , Andrew Griffin

Republican representative David Schweikert notes a problem in the ban: the data in TikTok has already been taken. So even if Bytedance divests, that data could be parcelled up, sold and distributed, he warns.

He says that data should be treated as a private property right.

14:03 , Andrew Griffin

Representative Thomas Massey, opposing the bill, says that the bill’s primary consequence will be in helping Facebook. It’s hard to disagree with this: if you go on Instagram Reels (or YouTube Shorts, or similar) they’re mostly the same content from TikTok.

Voting begins

14:07 , Andrew Griffin

Lawmakers now have 15 minutes to vote on the bill.

‘It’s not a ban,’ says Deborah Ross

14:12 , Andrew Griffin

Deborah Ross, a Democrat from North Carolina, tells The Independent that she voted to support the bill because it’s “not a ban” but rather a “divestment bill”. (If Bytedance divests, then TikTok will stay available.)

‘Protect all of our data’, says Mark Pocan

14:14 , Andrew Griffin

Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, says that he voted against the bill because it “didn’t make a case”. He said that the classified briefing did not give him a “compelling reason to go after a single social media platform”.

Instead, he said that lawmakers should “go after protecting all of our data with all social media companies”. Without that, the bill is about feeling good rather than doing good, he said.

House votes for TikTok ban

14:25 , Andrew Griffin

By a huge majority, the House has voted for the bill – which will require that TikTok parent Bytedance divests or the app is banned in the US.

 (C-Span)
(C-Span)

Marjorie Taylor Greene votes against bill

14:33 , Katie Hawkinson

Controversial Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene – the only member of congress to be banned from social media – has voted against the bill.

“I think that it opens up many possibilities could be unintended consequences, or maybe some unintended consequences,” she told The Independent. “This bill is saying that it’s designed to protect people’s data. But if we care about protecting people’s data, then we should protect American citizens universally from every company that is using their data or selling their data.”

“Another issue that I see is this is the same government that worked with big tech and social media companies and censored and banned Americans. So I don’t think this is going to protect Americans at all. And I’m the only member of Congress that actually got banned on Twitter by an American on Twitter. And China didn’t do that to me. So I voted that for those reasons.”

TikTok ban: House votes for bill that requires app to be sold or blocked

14:42 , Andrew Griffin

Here’s our full story on the House’s vote on today’s bill.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson comments on TikTok legislation

14:55 , Katie Hawkinson

“Communist China is America’s largest geopolitical foe and is using technology to actively undermine America’s economy and security,” Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement Wednesday morning. “Apps like TikTok allow the Chinese Communist Party to push harmful content to our youth and engage in malign activities, such as harvesting the location, purchasing habits, contacts, and sensitive data of Americans.”

“Today’s bipartisan vote demonstrates Congress’ opposition to Communist China’s attempts to spy on and manipulate Americans, and signals our resolve to deter our enemies,” he continued. “I urge the Senate to pass this bill and send it to the President so he can sign it into law.”

Co-author says bill won’t ban TikTok and force users onto Meta platforms as Donald Trump claimed

15:05 , Katie Hawkinson

Mike Gallagher, Chair of the House Select Committee on Competition with the Chinese Communist Party, spoke to The Independent about Donald Trump’s opposition to the bill.

Mr Trump claimed that a potential removal of TikTok from US app stores will allow Meta platforms — like Facebook and Instagram — to become more successful.

“I don’t want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better,” the former president said, referring to his baseless conspiracy theory that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

Mr Gallagher told The Independent that Mr Trump’s portrayal of the bill does not accurately describe its purpose.

“The goal of the bill is not to shut down TikTok and force its users onto Facebook, that would be a bad outcome, so in that sense, I agree with what Trump said,” Mr Gallagher told The Independent. “But our bill allows for a divestiture. Again, a lot of this process started with the former president in 2020, trying to tackle the national security threat posed by finances and ownership of TikTok.”

Several Democrats opposed bill

15:16 , Katie Hawkinson

Some 50 Democrats voted against the bill that could result in TikTok being removed from US app stores.

Representative Ilhan Omar told The Independent she was not convinced after a national security briefing.

“They were not able to provide any concrete evidence that this was necessary for us to protect our national security outside of the misinformation that we’ve seen on Facebook, on Instagram on YouTube shorts on Twitter, so just singling out this particular company seemed like it was not in line with protecting our national security,” she said.

Representative Jim Himes, a Democrat and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, also voted against the bill.

“I have more insight than most into the online threats posed by our adversaries,” Mr Himes said in a statement. “But one of the key differences between us and those adversaries is the fact they shut down newspapers, broadcast stations, and social media platforms. We do not.”

Chairwoman of committee that advanced bill reaffirms need for ByteDance divestment

15:40 , Katie Hawkinson

Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce which voted to advance the bill to the House, told The Independent the Senate must now act to pass the bill.

“The Senate needs to act soon — I recommend that TikTok break up with the Chinese Communist Party,” she told The Independent.

She also noted that Donald Trump’s opposition to the bill — which he said would drive more users to Meta platforms like Facebook and Instagram — is a separate issue.

“We share the concerns that President Trump has with Facebook and Meta but that’s a separate issue from this bill,” Ms Rodgers said.

Chair of Senate Ethics Committee speaks on TikTok bill

16:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat and Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, told The Independent he wants to find “a path forward where TikTok is still widely available” while still supporting ByteDance divestment.

“My strong impression is that the Chinese Communist Party uses its control over Chinese-owned companies to hoover up personally identifying data on those who use services run by Chinese companies,” Mr Coons said. “TikTok, in my view, is one of those companies and I think there is a real incredible threat to the data security of Americans as a result. On the other hand, I recognize that 10s of millions of Americans enjoy TikTok every day.”

“If it is possible for [TikTok] to be sold from Chinese control to non-Chinese control, I think it's great,” he continued.

The House has now passed a bill that could ban TikTok. What happens next?

16:20 , Katie Hawkinson

TikTok ban: What happens now after House passed bill?

Senior Counsel at ACLU speaks out against bill

16:40 , Katie Hawkinson

Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at the ACLU, called the bill that could result in a TikTok ban “blatant censorship.”

“Make no mistake: the House’s TikTok bill is a ban, and it’s blatant censorship,” Ms Leventoff said. “Today, the House of Representatives voted to violate the First Amendment rights of more than half of the country. The Senate must reject this unconstitutional and reckless bill.”

The bill will now move to the US Senate, though whether it will succeed is still unclear given the chamber’s Democratic majority.

Representative from Massachusetts calls for more comprehensive legislation on social media

17:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Representative Ayanna Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat, called Wednesday’s House bill “the wrong approach.”

“Instead of targeting a single company in a rushed and restricted process, Congress should pass comprehensive data privacy legislation that creates standards and regulations around data harvesting across all social media companies, like many other nations have done,” Ms Pressley said in a statement. “I also have serious concerns about the First Amendment implications of a ban on TikTok, which millions of Americans rely on to consume news, make a living, and build community with one another.”

Former Speaker of the House supports bill over concerns of censorship by Chinese government

17:20 , Katie Hawkinson

Representative Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, said she supports the bill due to the censorship of minority communities by the Chinese government.

“Repressed communities in China – from the Uyghurs to Tibetans to the people of Hong Kong, and others – are telling us that their stories of their suffering are being blocked or misrepresented on TikTok,” Ms Pelosi said in a statement. “At the same time, the CCP is spreading propaganda to cover up its heinous abuses. We cannot allow Beijing to bury the truth of its abysmal record on human rights.”

The California Congresswoman has long focused on China as part of her legislative agenda. Ms Pelosi visited Taiwan in 2022, becoming the first Speaker since Newt Gingrich in 1997.

She also visited Tiananmen Square two years after the 1989 massacre, holding a banner that read, “To those who died for democracy in China.”

Potential TikTok ban explained

17:40 , Katie Hawkinson

Want to learn more about how the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applicants Act could result in US app stores removing TikTok?

The Independent’s Alex Woodward has the answers:

Could the US ban TikTok?

Free Speech experts concerned about potential removal of TikTok from US app stores

18:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Several experts in the policy sphere who focus on freedom of speech and expression have voiced concerns over the bill that could result in the removal of TikTok from US app stores.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia, condemned the bill as a “betrayal” of the First Amendment.

“A betrayal of the First Amendment and a great gift to authoritarians around the world, who will soon be citing this profoundly misguided bill to justify new restrictions on their own citizens’ access to ideas, information, and media from abroad,” Mr Jaffer wrote on X.

Mr Jaffer is also a former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney whose work led to the publication of the Barack Obama era “drone memos.”

Meanwhile, Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at the ACLU, called the bill the “blatant censorship.”

“Make no mistake: the House’s TikTok bill is a ban, and it’s blatant censorship,” Ms Leventoff said. “Today, the House of Representatives voted to violate the First Amendment rights of more than half of the country. The Senate must reject this unconstitutional and reckless bill.”

WATCH: Majorie Taylor Greene opposes House attempt to ban TikTok

18:20 , Katie Hawkinson

Some legislators concerned that bill unnecessarily targets single social media platform

18:40 , Katie Hawkinson

Several Democrats have expressed concerns about the bill, which passed the House with an overwhelming majority on Wednesday, targets only one platform.

Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, says that he voted against the bill because it “didn’t make a case”. He said that the classified briefing did not give him a “compelling reason to go after a single social media platform”.

Instead, he said that lawmakers should “go after protecting all of our data with all social media companies”. Without that, the bill is about feeling good rather than doing good, he said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar told The Independent she was not convinced to vote yes after a national security briefing.

“They were not able to provide any concrete evidence that this was necessary for us to protect our national security outside of the misinformation that we’ve seen on Facebook, on Instagram on YouTube shorts on Twitter, so just singling out this particular company seemed like it was not in line with protecting our national security,” she said.

WATCH: Co-author discusses bill that could result in TikTok being removed from US app stores

19:00 , Katie Hawkinson

The House has now passed a bill that could ban TikTok. What happens next?

19:20 , Katie Hawkinson

The US House of Representatives has voted to approve a bill that could ban TikTok from US app stores.

The bill – Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applicants Act – overwhelmingly surpassed the 2/3 majority needed when lawmakers cast their votes on Wednesday morning.

Authored by a bipartisan group of representatives, the bill would allow federal law enforcement agencies to label certain apps as national security threats if they are determined to be under the control of foreign adversaries.

Read more on what happens now:

TikTok ban: What happens now after House passed bill?

Co-author says bill won’t ban TikTok and force users onto Meta platforms as Donald Trump claimed

19:40 , Katie Hawkinson

Mike Gallagher, Chair of the House Select Committee on Competition with the Chinese Communist Party, spoke to The Independent about Donald Trump’s opposition to the bill.

Mr Trump claimed that a potential removal of TikTok from US app stores will allow Meta platforms — like Facebook and Instagram — to become more successful.

“I don’t want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better,” the former president said, referring to his baseless conspiracy theory that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

Mr Gallagher told The Independent that Mr Trump’s portrayal of the bill does not accurately describe its purpose.

“The goal of the bill is not to shut down TikTok and force its users onto Facebook, that would be a bad outcome, so in that sense, I agree with what Trump said,” Mr Gallagher told The Independent. “But our bill allows for a divestiture. Again, a lot of this process started with the former president in 2020, trying to tackle the national security threat posed by finances and ownership of TikTok.”

US-China tech relations expert says to stop calling this bill a “ban"

20:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Aynne Kokas, a professor at the University of Virginia who specializes in US-China media and technology relations, told The Independent the biggest misconception about this bill is that it’s a “ban” on TikTok.

“Every time I see [ban], it I find it like profoundly frustrating because there is an option,” Dr Kokas This why all of these free speech arguments about TiKTok being banned don't really make sense, because [the bill] is not saying that it's not possible for the company to still operate in the US...it's not a free speech question, it is a corporate ownership question.”

The bill would give TikTok parent company ByteDance six months to divest and sell 80 per cent of their shares to an American company before the media platform is removed from US app stores.

Chairwoman of committee that advanced bill reaffirms need for ByteDance divestment

20:20 , Katie Hawkinson

Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce which voted to advance the bill to the House, told The Independent the Senate must now act to pass the bill.

“The Senate needs to act soon — I recommend that TikTok break up with the Chinese Communist Party,” she told The Independent.

She also noted that Donald Trump’s opposition to the bill — which he said would drive more users to Meta platforms like Facebook and Instagram — is a separate issue.

“We share the concerns that President Trump has with Facebook and Meta but that’s a separate issue from this bill,” Ms Rodgers said.