TikTok warns that US ban will crush freedom of speech.

  • By Thomas Mackintosh
  • BBC News

image caption, Western officials have warned of TikTok's rise in popularity among young people, accusing it of pandering to Beijing and a way to spread propaganda – something the company's owner, Pydedans, denies.

TikTok says a ban on its app in the U.S. will “crush the free speech rights” of 170 million Americans.

The US House of Representatives voted on Saturday to ban TikTok unless the app's owner cuts ties with China.

The legislation is part of a US foreign policy package that includes aid to Ukraine and will become law next week.

In recent months, US officials have raised concerns about TikTok's popularity among young people.

They accuse TikTok's owner Bytedance of pandering to Beijing — charges it has repeatedly denied.

The House of Representatives first voted on TikTok's future — voting 360 to 58 on a renewed exemption or ban bill.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week, with US President Joe Biden earlier saying he would sign it into law.

video title, See: How do young Americans feel about the ban on TikTok?

A spokesperson for TikTok condemned the bill, saying it would “crush the free speech of 170 million Americans, destroy seven million businesses and shut down the platform, which contributes $24bn (£19.4bn) annually to the US economy”.

TikTok has said that ByteDance is “not an agent of China or any other country”. Byte Dance insists it is not a Chinese company, pointing to several global investment firms that hold a 60% stake in it.

The US House of Representatives voted in March to give Byte Dance six months to sell TikTok to non-Chinese owners or block the app in the US – but that bill is still pending Senate approval.

Founded in 2012 by Chinese entrepreneurs, ByteDance first hit the jackpot in China with the short video app Duoin. A year later, it launched the international version, TikTok.

Social media use was banned in China, but gained a billion users in five years.

image source, Good pictures

image caption, Some believe that the ban will be imposed, especially in an election year

It is now run by a limited liability company based in Los Angeles and Singapore, but essentially owned by Byte Dance.

While its founders own only 20% of Byte Dance, it is the company's controlling stake. About 60% are owned by institutional investors, including major US investment firms such as General Atlantic, Susquehanna and Sequoia Capital.

The remaining 20% ​​belongs to employees around the world. Three of its five board members are Americans.

But Beijing's grip on private companies in recent years has the U.S. concerned about how much control the Chinese Communist Party has over Byte Dance and the data it holds.

TikTok has insisted that US data is encrypted and stored on Oracle servers in the US.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's vote, Republican congressman Raja Krishnamurthy – a co-author of the bill – told the BBC's World Business Report program that he wanted the process to go ahead.

“I think it still has a lot of good content,” he said. “But the most important thing is that it is not under the control or operation of an enemy country.”

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