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McConnell Advocates for TikTok’s US Divestiture

 |  April 9, 2024

US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has made a significant call for legislation that would require the parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, a China-based firm, to divest the popular short video app. This move comes amid growing concerns over national security and the influence of Beijing on the platform, which boasts a user base of 170 million Americans.

According to Reuters, McConnell emphasized the constitutional precedent for such an action, stating, “Requiring the divestment of Beijing-influenced entities from TikTok would land squarely within established constitutional precedent.” He further highlighted the potential threat to America’s children, describing TikTok as a tool through which “America’s greatest strategic rival is threatening our security right here on US soil in tens of millions of American homes.”

The call for divestment follows a decisive vote in the US House of Representatives on March 13, which saw a 352-65 majority in favor of giving ByteDance approximately six months to divest the US assets of TikTok or face a potential ban.

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Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell has indicated that discussions are underway with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Intelligence Committee chair Mark Warner to formulate a strategy on proceeding with TikTok legislation. Schumer, while not specifying a stance on TikTok, mentioned that progress on bipartisan bills, including measures concerning TikTok, is anticipated in the near future.

Cantwell highlighted the importance of developing tools to prevent foreign actors from engaging in activities that could harm U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, the debate over TikTok’s future has intensified in Washington, with lawmakers receiving an influx of calls from users opposing the legislation.

TikTok, on its part, has defended its position, arguing that a ban would infringe upon the First Amendment rights of its 170 million American users. The company has consistently maintained that it has never shared US user data with the Chinese government and has no intention of doing so.

Source: Reuters