TikTok continues to face criticism from American politicians, but the Congressional plan to regulate the app is going on the back burner — at least until 2024. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, told Reuters that Congress will not take up TikTok-oriented legislation until the calendar turns over to a new year.
Congress’ ultimate goal is to pass a bill that would imbue the Biden Administration with the regulatory powers it would need to check foreign-owned apps. China-based companies, including TikTok parent ByteDance, would be put on a particularly tight leash if D.C. lawmakers follow through on the threats they’ve been making for months.
Cantwell has been charged with revising the RESTRICT Act, which was originally introduced as a means of banning TikTok in the United States. There seem to be partisan squabbles over the bill’s intention, with Democrats like Cantwell proposing softer terms that would make the RESTRICT Act easier to enforce.
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Some Republicans, on the other hand, are eager to take on TikTok by any means necessary. The app has become a frequent topic of discussion in GOP Presidential debates, with establishment candidate Nikki Haley emerging as one of TikTok’s fiercest opponents. During her most recent debate performance, Haley tried to call out anti-Semitism on TikTok making dubious claims about the app’s connection to Hamas. “We really do need to ban TikTok once and for all,” Haley said.
Even within the GOP, there are arguments about the best way to deal with TikTok. Outsider candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has seemingly embraced the app, though his decision hasn’t done much to change his tepid polling results.
Both parties agree that any Congressional answer to TikTok must address data privacy concerns that have dogged the app for years. “We’re really trying to get people to come up with something that they feel like accomplishes the task,” Cantwell told Reuters.
A U.S. TikTok ban appeared to be a possible outcome after the app’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, delivered a contentious Congressional testimony in March. But observers around the world praised Chew, and state-level attempts to ban TikTok have been thwarted by legal challenges.
Even if Congress ignores TikTok until the new year, the legislative body will soon receive another chance to question Chew face-to-face. The TikTok boss is one of five tech execs who will travel to Capitol Hill for a hearing on January 31.