Legislators’ New Strategy to Pressure ByteDance into Selling TikTok

Legislators have proposed a fresh legislation aiming to compel ByteDance to offload TikTok in order to keep it operative in the United States. The proposal referred to as “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” mandates TikTok’s divestment before American app platforms and online hosting services can distribute the app.

The proposed law is a newest part of ongoing attempts by officials to either ban the app or push for its sell-off. Earlier attempts by Donald Trump to bring about a sale were hampered, and even the current Biden administration has brought similar pressures on ByteDance. A recent court verdict in Montana also paused an attempt to ban the app.

The latest proposal, backed by bipartisan lawmakers from the House of Representatives, envisions a different path. This would give ByteDance a time frame of six months to sell TikTok before it would face a ban from app stores. It also necessitates TikTok and similar apps to present users with their own data in a format compatible with rival apps.

The bill, though TikTok-centric, could potentially lead to bans of other overseas apps deemed as threats to national security by the president. TikTok voiced their objections to the proposal in a statement, describing it as a complete ban cloaked under a guise.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew has been reaffirming that selling off the company wouldn’t completely address the issues surrounding US user data. A scheme called “Project Texas”, aiming to address national security concerns associated with its services, has been underway for several years under TikTok’s purview. According to this plan, TikTOk’s US user database would be relocated to US-based servers and be opened for government audits.

According to a report from last year by Washington Post, negotiations between TikTok and Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) have been resumed recently. If Congress passes the latest proposal, it would resolve doubts about the ability to ban TikTok and establish a new process for forcing ByteDance to act.