A House panel voted to advance a bill that would give Biden the power to ban TikTok

Washington (CNN) A powerful House committee voted Wednesday to advance the legislation Amid vocal objections from some lawmakers, it would make it easier to ban TikTok from the U.S. and crack down on other economic activities related to China. And civil rights advocates argue that the plan is unconstitutional and threatens a wide range of online speech.

Act – Launched on Friday — and fast-tracked by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul — would authorize the Biden administration to impose a nationwide TikTok ban under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

The Text of the Bill It specifically names TikTok and its parent ByteDance, and President Joe Biden is calling for fines against the companies, including a ban if the administration determines they may have knowingly transferred TikTok’s user data to “any foreign person” with whom they work. Under the influence of the Chinese government.

Sanctions would also be required if the Biden administration finds that the Chinese government has helped companies engage in surveillance, hacking, censorship or intelligence gathering; facilitated election interference in the United States or another democratic ally; or helped the Chinese government influence US policy-making, among others.

The bill, known as HR 1153 or the Preventing America’s Technological Adversaries Act, also weakens the 35-year-old law known as the Berman Amendment to the IEEPA. Movies, photos, news and Finally the electronic media To foreign countries, even countries under US sanctions. Legal professionals and Even some TikTok creators The Berman Amendment has been cited as a potential obstacle to a nationwide TikTok ban because it could violate the Berman Amendment’s protections for electronic information.

The legislation being considered this week specifies that “sensitive personal data” does not qualify for the protection of the Berman Amendment, which allows the US government to impose restrictions on the international flow of data under the IEEPA.

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The legislation reflects urgency from US lawmakers amid fears that TikTok, or ByteDance, could be pressured by the Chinese government to hand over the personal information of its US users. US officials have said the data could benefit China by facilitating targeted disinformation campaigns or providing intelligence targets.

In a statement, TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter called on the Biden administration to finalize a proposed national security deal that has been in the works for years and is designed to address those concerns.

“The U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on exporting American culture and values ​​to the billions of people who use our service worldwide,” TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement. “Despite the significant negative impact on the free speech rights of the millions of Americans who use and love TikTok, we are disappointed to see this legislation move forward.”

In an earlier statement, Oberwetter called on the Biden administration to finalize a proposed national security deal that has been in the works for years and is designed to address those concerns. “TikTok Inc. is a U.S. company bound by U.S. law,” Oberwetter said, adding, “We are two years and $1.5 billion dollars deep into a plan to go above and beyond existing law to protect the U.S. version of the TikTok platform.”

A long discussion

The vote followed a lengthy debate Tuesday in which committee members were split along party lines on the proposal. McCaul and other Republicans have argued that the risks of allowing TikTok to continue operating in the United States are too great, and that Congress should act quickly, citing the federal government’s TikTok ban affecting official devices.

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“How do we ban TikTok among us and not ban it for our children? That’s the moral question of today and our time,” McCall said on Tuesday. “TikTok is a modern-day Trojan horse [Chinese Communist Party] Used to track and exploit Americans’ personal information… In other words, it’s a spy balloon on your phone.”

Representative Ann Wagner, a Missouri Republican, called TikTok an “urgent, urgent issue of the highest national security risk,” adding: “There is a clear and present danger; time and urgency are imperative.”

But Democrats pushed back, saying they only had days to consider the bill before bringing it up for a vote on the McCall Act. They said the breadth of the law would inadvertently affect American and European businesses. The panel’s top Democrat, New York Rep. Gregory Meeks warned that Taiwanese and Korean chipmakers could all be affected by the bill at a time when the U.S. government is trying to get the same companies to build chip manufacturing plants in the U.S.

“This legislation will damage our credibility around the world, bring more countries into China’s territory, destroy American jobs and undermine core American values ​​of free speech and free enterprise,” Meeks said. “The legislation before us today is unchecked and dangerous.

Representative David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, expressed confusion over how the bill deals with “recommendation algorithms,” saying the term is not defined in the law and suggesting the bill could have a broader impact on artificial intelligence algorithms that play a larger role. In the digital economy.

Many critics of McCaul’s legislation have proposed amendments to protect video game companies, including Riot Games and Epic Games, which are owned or considered a major shareholder by Chinese giant Tencent.

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Representative of the California Democratic Party. Sidney Kamlekar-Dove, who proposed one of the amendments to create a Corvette for Riot Games, called the bill “ill-conceived”, “hastily drafted” and “rushed”.

The amendments were defeated, and the underlying bill was approved 24-16 along party lines. The bill still needs a vote on the House floor and the Senate.

Fear of freedom of expression

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union blasted the legislation as “vague and redundant” and accused lawmakers of rushing the proposal to a committee vote within days of introducing the bill.

By seeking to restrict access to a particular social media platform, the bill risks violating Americans’ First Amendment rights to free expression, the ACLU said.

Under the bill, the U.S. government could seek to impose similar penalties and restrictions on any U.S. citizen who “transfers sensitive personal data” to “the jurisdiction” or “any foreign person.” China.”

But terms like “accommodating” or “subject to China’s influence” could be interpreted broadly to include a wide range of innocuous economic activities, and could expose Americans to enormous legal risk, the ACLU wrote. Letter McCall and the ranking Democrat on the panel are Rep. Gregory Meeks.

“It is impossible for the average person to know what the term “under Chinese influence” means, and the term is not defined in law,” the letter said. Is a company under Chinese influence if the CEO regularly travels there for vacations?”

The ACLU also took aim at the bill’s proposed changes to the Berman Amendment, calling them a “slippery slope” that could “lead to efforts to further dismantle the law that would deprive American residents of some of their favorite international books, movies, and artwork.”

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