When will TikTok be banned in the US?

China accuses US of 'unreasonably suppressing' app

The US government has told China-based ByteDance to sell its shares in TikTok or face a national ban. AFP
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Momentum in the US is growing for an outright ban on TikTok, the globally popular video-scrolling app with more than 110 million users in America alone, over concerns about user data being shared with the Chinese government.

Already, several western countries including the US, Britain, France and Belgium have banned TikTok from government phones, or on phones with access to government data.

They say TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, can harvest user data and provide it to the Chinese government, creating potential national security risks.

Some countries, including India and Pakistan, have already banned TikTok. But an outright ban in the US, which has more TikTok users than any other nation, would come as a major blow to the company.

Numerous countries have raised concerns over TikTok's ties to Beijing and its global hold over user data. Critics also say TikTok and short video-scrolling apps like it are bad for users' mental health and attention spans, particularly that of teenagers.

President Joe Biden's administration this week demanded that TikTok's Chinese owners divest their stakes in the popular video app or face a possible US ban, the company said.

The move follows the introduction of bipartisan US legislation that would allow the White House to ban TikTok or other foreign-based technologies if they pose a national security risk.

The legislation would apply to technology from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.

“The threat that everyone is talking about is TikTok and how it could enable surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, or facilitate the spread of malign influence campaigns in the US,” said Senator Mark Warner, a co-sponsor of the bill.

China accused the US of “unreasonably suppressing” TikTok.

“The US has so far failed to produce evidence that TikTok threatens US national security,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

But given all the government moves against TikTok, it seems more a question of when, not if, it will be banned.

Mr Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, tried to ban TikTok in 2020 but the move was blocked by US courts.

Updated: March 17, 2023, 9:44 PM