U.S. Votes Unanimously On a Bill That Could Ban New Users From Downloading TikTok

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Mar 11, 2024

Once again, the United States government is trying to ban TikTok. The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously voted on the latest bill, which will ban the popular video-sharing app from the U.S., making it different from previous ones.

The bill, named Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, could take the app down from the Apple and Google app stores in the U.S.

The U.S. Tries to Ban TikTok Parent’s Company

Earlier this month, representatives Mike Gallagher and Raja Krishnamoorthi introduced the bill. On Thursday, the Times reported that the bill received unanimous approval, with a vote of 50-0.

A person in a white sweater opening the TikTok app on a smartphone

Source: cottonbro studio/Pexels

If the bill goes into effect, the legislation would block apps owned by TikTok‘s parent company, ByteDance, from being available in U.S. application stores.

The U.S. Has Been Attempting to Ban TikTok

The U.S. has been piling on the pressure to regulate TikTok since last year. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that the app is a tool of the Chinese government and “screams out with national security concerns.”

A black smartphone screen showing the logo for TikTok

Source: Geri Tech/Pexels

Lawmakers worry that the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) could be using TikTok as a tool of influence during the democratic processes of the U.S.

TikTok’s Influence in the U.S. 

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee seems to believe that the CPP’s influence on TikTok could show and prompt content that supports the party’s agendas or by collecting data on American users.

A woman in a white shirt and jeans looking at her phone while working on her laptop

Source: cottonbro studio/Pexels

The bill also comes at an interesting time as President Joe Biden’s 2024 campaign joined TikTok last month to connect with younger voters.

The Bill Would Ban Downloading the App

The bill would prohibit apps from the Beijing-based company from downloading in the U.S. unless ByteDance gave up its apps, including TikTok, within 180 days of the legislation’s enactment.

A woman with a blue sweater recording herself on a smartphone

Source: Ivan Samkov/Pexels

The bill appears to grant the White House the authority to ban access to an app owned by a foreign adversary if it is believed to pose a threat to national security.

The Bill Does Not Mention TikTok By Name

The bill does not specifically mention TikTik, yet the app seems to be the point of interest for the legislation’s decision to vote in favor of the bill.

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher questions senior military leaders during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill

Source: Gallagher/GetArchives

“This is my message to TikTok: Break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” said Chairman Gallagher in a press release regarding the bill.


TikTok Response to the Bill

TikTok responded to the bill in a statement released after the bill was voted on. “The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression,” the statement reads.

A hand holding a smartphone with the TikTok logo

Source: Alicia Bruce/Ronnie Bruce

“This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”


The ACLU Sides With TikTok

The ACLU also released a statement in support of TikTok and ByteDance, writing that “our elected officials are once again trying to trade our First Amendment rights for cheap political points.”

A blue background with the Statue of Liberty in the background with white lettering

Source: ACLU

The statement continued: “Whether it’s watching cooking tutorials, discussing the news of the day, or livestreaming protests, we have a right to use TikTok and other platforms to exchange our thoughts, ideas, and opinions with people around the world.”


TikTok’s Influence Can’t Go Unnoticed

TikTok has proven to be incredibly influential in the U.S. and Hollywood. HBO CEO Casey Bloys told the Hollywood Reporter, “There’s an entire ecosystem of people who write about television, and want to talk about it, and get on social media and criticize it or praise it, or whatever.”

The Hollywood sign from street view among the greenery of a hill

Source: Paul Deetman/Pexels

Bloys continued, saying: “The effect of all of it together is to keep the show in the cultural conversation.”


TikTok’s Influenced the Biggest Box Office Earners Last Summer 

A recent example of success in Hollywood came from TikTok’s influence in the summer’s Barbenheimer trend, which saw users blending “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” together in fun ways since the two films would be releasing on the same day.

A black, white, and red marquee for a box office at night

Source: rawpixel

Barbenheimer’s influence reflected at the box office as “Barbie” outgrossed “Oppenheimer,” becoming the highest-grossing film of 2023.


Is the Bill a Law? 

No, this recent vote on the bill does not mean that it is an official part of U.S. law. Smaller committees typically debate and vote on bills before they advance to the entire chamber. The bill has passed its first round of voting in the House of Energy and Commerce Committee.

A smartphone beneath a plant showing a video sharing application

Source: Plann

However, the bill is not a law. It has a long road ahead of it before it can become one. The House floor discusses and votes on the bill.


When Will the New TikTok Bill Become a Law?

There is no set date at this moment for the House to vote on the bill. While the Senate and the President have the opportunity to kill the bill, there has been large support behind the bill. The Biden administration has signaled support for the bill but has not endorsed it.

A hand holding a smartphone with the logo for TikTok displayed on the screen

Source: Nordskov Media/Flickr

TikTok has responded by notifying all of its users with an advertisement to call their congressional representatives to express their discontent with legislation in hopes of stopping the bill from becoming law.