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A bill that could ban TikTok advances to the Senate. What’s next?

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A bill that could ban TikTok advances to the Senate. What’s next?
News

News

A bill that could ban TikTok advances to the Senate. What’s next?

2024-04-21 03:22 Last Updated At:03:30

The House has approved legislation that would ban TikTok if its Beijing-based parent company doesn’t divest from the popular social media platform, escalating the fight over the hot-button issue.

The TikTok legislation, which was included in a package of bills that would send aid to Ukraine and Israel, could become law as soon as next week if the Senate moves quickly.

Here’s what you need to know:

In March, the House passed legislation that would require ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, to sell the platform within six months, or face a ban in the United States.

But some senators, including the Democratic Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell, had expressed concerns that the six-month deadline would be too short to carry out a complex deal that could be worth tens of billions of dollars. Following negotiations with the Senate on the issue, the House included a modified version of the legislation in the foreign aid package.

The revised legislation would give ByteDance nine months to sell TikTok, and a possible three-month extension if a sale was in progress. The bill would also bar the company from controlling TikTok’s secret sauce: the algorithm that feeds users videos based off their interests.

Cantwell, who has powers over the TikTok bill in the Senate, had previously expressed concerns that it could stand to legal scrutiny. However, she said in a statement Wednesday evening that she supports the updated legislation.

Lawmakers from both parties — as well as law enforcement and intelligence officials — have long expressed concerns that Chinese authorities could force ByteDance to hand over data on the 170 million Americans who use TikTok. The worry stems from a set of Chinese national security laws that compel organizations to assist with intelligence gathering - which ByteDance would likely be subject to – and other far-reaching ways the country’s authoritarian government exercises control.

Opponents of the bill, though, counter that the Chinese government could easily get information on Americans in other ways, including through commercial data brokers that sell or rent personal information.

Lawmakers and some administration officials have also expressed concerns that China could - potentially – direct or influence ByteDance to suppress or boost TikTok content that are favorable to its interests. TikTok, for its part, has denied assertions that it could be used as a tool of the Chinese government. The company has also said it has never shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities and won’t do so if it’s asked.

In early March, Rep. Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party who’s behind the TikTok bill, introduced a House resolution that lists concerns many lawmakers have expressed about the platform. But to date, the U.S. government has not provided public evidence that shows TikTok sharing U.S. user information with Chinese authorities, or Chinese officials tinkering with the company’s algorithm.

The package that included the updated TikTok measure has bipartisan momentum, but it’s also facing pushback from hard-right conservatives who are opposed to providing assistance to Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Attaching the TikTok bill to the aid package is expected to expedite efforts to pass the regulatory measure, which has broad bipartisan support in the Senate.

However, it has encountered opposition in that chamber from some lawmakers who say it sets a dangerous precedent. In an X post last month, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called the House bill “a misguided overreach” and “a draconian measure that stifles free expression, tramples constitutional rights, and disrupts the economic pursuits of millions of Americans.”

President Joe Biden has said he will sign the TikTok legislation if it gets to his desk. If that does happen, it’s expected to be challenged by TikTok, which has sued to counter previous attempts to ban the platform both nationally and at the state level.

Since mid-March, TikTok has spent more than $5 million on TV ads opposing the legislation, including in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Nevada and Ohio, according to AdImpact, an advertising tracking firm.

The company is also attempting to counter the bill by emphasizing its investments in data safety, and the positive impacts it has on the lives of content creators and small businesses who rely on it for income and have fostered a community on its platform.

When asked for comment on Thursday, TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek said: “It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually.”

Some digital rights and free speech groups have backed TikTok. The American Civil Liberties Union reiterated its opposition to the House bill on Thursday, arguing the extension given to ByteDance under the new bill wasn’t “meaningfully different from the last one” and that the end result of the bill would be a TikTok ban.

While some people have voiced an interest in buying TikTok’s U.S. business — among them “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary and former Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin — there are several challenges to getting it done.

“Somebody would have to actually be ready to shell out the large amount of money that this product and system is worth,” said Stanford University researcher Graham Webster, who studies Chinese technology policy and U.S.-China relations.

“But even if somebody has deep enough pockets and is ready to go into negotiating to purchase, this sort of matchmaking on acquisitions is not quick.”

Big tech companies could afford it but would likely face intense scrutiny from antitrust regulators in both the U.S. and China. Some are also still bruised after the then-Trump administration’s 2020 attempt to force a sale brought several bids that never panned out.

Then again, if the revised legislation becomes law and survives potential court challenges, it could make TikTok cheaper to buy.

China, which has been clamping down on exports of recommendation algorithms by Chinese tech companies, is also likely to oppose a sale of TikTok’s algorithm that has made the platform successful. That means a potential buyer would essentially have to rebuild important components of the short-form video app.

AP journalist Mary Clare Jalonick and Matt O'Brien contributed to this report from Washington.

Bill that could ban TikTok has been attached to the House foreign aid package. What next?

Bill that could ban TikTok has been attached to the House foreign aid package. What next?

FILE - The TikTok logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen which displays the TikTok home screen, Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Boston. European Union regulators said Wednesday, April 17, 2024, they're seeking details from TikTok on a new app from the video sharing platform that pays users to watch videos. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

FILE - The TikTok logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen which displays the TikTok home screen, Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Boston. European Union regulators said Wednesday, April 17, 2024, they're seeking details from TikTok on a new app from the video sharing platform that pays users to watch videos. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Bill that could ban TikTok has been attached to the House foreign aid package. What next?

Bill that could ban TikTok has been attached to the House foreign aid package. What next?

Next Article

Trump holds a rally in the South Bronx as he tries to woo his hometown

2024-05-25 00:18 Last Updated At:00:21

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has campaigned in one of the most Democratic counties in the nation, holding a rally in the South Bronx as he tries to woo minority voters days before a Manhattan jury will begin deliberations on whether to convict him of felony charges in his criminal hush money trial.

Trump on Thursday addressed supporters in Crotona Park, a public green space in a neighborhood that is among the city's most diverse and its most impoverished, a change from the majority-white areas where the Republican holds most of his rallies. While the crowd was not quite as diverse as the South Bronx as a whole, it included large numbers of Black and Hispanic voters, and Spanish was heard throughout the crowd.

Trump, in his speech, cast himself as a better president for Black and Hispanic voters than President Joe Biden as he railed against Biden on immigration, an issue Trump has made central to his campaign. He insisted “the biggest negative impact” of the influx of migrants in New York is “against our Black population and our Hispanic population who are losing their jobs, losing their housing, losing everything they can lose."

Some in the crowd responded by chanting, “Build the wall,” a reference to Trump's push while in the White House to build a U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

With Trump confined to New York for much of the last six weeks because of his trial, the presumptive Republican nominee’s campaign has planned a series of local stops across his hometown before and after court. He visited a bodega in Harlem, dropped by a construction site and held a photo op at a local firehouse.

But the Bronx rally was his first event open to the general public as he insists he is making a play to win an overwhelmingly Democratic state that hasn’t backed a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984. Besides creating a spectacle of rallygoers and protesters, the rally also gave Trump an opportunity to highlight what he argues are advantages on economic and immigration issues that could cut into key Democratic voting blocs.

“The strategy is to demonstrate to the voters of the Bronx and New York that this isn’t your typical presidential election, that Donald Trump is here to represent everybody and get our country back on track,” said Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds, a potential Trump running mate who grew up in Brooklyn.

The former president opened his rally with an ode to his hometown, talking about its humble beginnings as a small Dutch trading post before becoming a glamorous capital of culture that “inspired the entire world.” While Trump established residency in Florida in 2019, he reminisced on Thursday about his efforts to revitalize Central Park's Wollman Rink and people he knew in the real estate business.

“Everyone wanted to be here," he told the enthusiastic audience. “But sadly this is now a city in decline."

“If a New Yorker can’t save this country," he went on to say, “no one can.”

Trump called several people with local ties to the stage, including Donalds and the Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr., a former New York City Council member. He also brought up the local rappers Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow, who were indicted last year for conspiracy to commit murder by the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

Hours before Trump’s rally was set to begin, a long line of supporters decked out in red “Make America Great Again” hats and other Trump gear snaked around the park, waiting for security screening to begin. People were still entering the park well into Trump's speech, with some eager supporters sprinting up a hill toward the rally site after getting through security.

The Bronx Democratic Party protested Trump's appearance with its own event at the park.

Members of multiple unions were present, holding signs that said “The Bronx says no to Trump” in both English and Spanish.

“We are used to elected officials, to government officials, to opportunists of all kinds who come to our community and use our painful history,” said Democratic State Rep. Amanda Septimo, who represents the South Bronx. "They talk about the Bronx and everything that’s wrong with it, but they never get to the part that talks about what they’re going to do for the Bronx and we know that Trump is never going to get to that part in his speech.”

But some locals in the crowd Thursday disagreed.

Margarita Rosario, a 69-year-old who has lived in the borough for more than 60 years, said she saw Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on television the night before suggesting that the Bronx wouldn't support Trump. It spurred her to show up, holding a Trump flag and a poster that said, “Make America Great Again.”

“I got so annoyed with that. I said, ‘How dare she speak for the whole Bronx?’” Rosario said.

Muhammad Ali, a 50-year-old who lives in the Bronx and said he planned to vote for Trump in November, said he once used to think the former president was a racist but his views have changed.

“We need a patriotic president at the moment and I find Donald Trump more patriotic for the moment than Joe Biden,” said Ali, an immigrant from Bangladesh and worker for New York’s transportation agency.

At least one New Yorker in the crowd said he knew Trump from his days as a local billionaire real estate developer.

Alfredo Rosado, 62, said he’d been a Trump supporter since 1998 when he worked for several months as a fill-in summer doorman at Trump’s Trump Tower building.

Rosado recounted how Trump had asked his name and stopped to chat. “He’s the same person you see,” he said of the former president.

Trump’s campaign believes he can chip away at Biden's support among Black and Hispanic voters, particularly younger men who may not follow politics closely, but are frustrated by their economic situations and drawn to Trump’s tough-guy persona.

He's also argued the indictments he faces in New York and elsewhere make him relatable to Black voters frustrated by the criminal justice system, a statement that was harshly criticized by Biden's allies.

Biden’s campaign on Thursday released two ads aimed at undercutting Trump’s attempts to make inroads with Black voters, highlighting his propagation of the “birther” conspiracy against former President Barack Obama and his calls for the death penalty for five men wrongly convicted of rape in the 1989 Central Park Five case. A radio ad fictionalizing a conversation between a Trump campaign volunteer and a Black voter will air on national Black radio stations while a shorter television spot will air in major cities, in swing states and on digital platforms, aiming to reach voters in the Bronx near Trump’s rally.

The rally comes during a pause in Trump’s criminal hush money trial. Court will resume following the Memorial Day weekend with closing arguments. The jury will then decide whether Trump will become the first former president in the nation's history to be criminally convicted and whether he will be the first major party presidential candidate to run as a convicted felon.

The Bronx was once the most Democratic borough in the city. Barack Obama won 91.2% of the borough's vote in 2012, the highest in the state. Biden won 83.5% of the borough in 2020. Trump garnered only 16% of the vote.

The area Trump visited is overwhelmingly non-white — a departure from most of his rally locations. About 65% of residents are Hispanic and 31% Black, according to the U.S. Census data. About 35% live below the poverty line.

As he wrapped up his speech, Trump said he woke up Thursday uncertain of the reception he'd get in the Bronx.

"I said, ‘I wonder, will it be hostile or will it be friendly?’" he said. "It was beyond friendly. It was a lovefest.”

This story has been corrected to show the rappers were charged last year, not this month.

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington and Liset Cruz in New York contributed to this report.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump prepares to speak at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump prepares to speak at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump gather ahead of a campaign rally in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump gather ahead of a campaign rally in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Supporters of the Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gather for a campaign rally in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Supporters of the Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gather for a campaign rally in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former Rep. George Santos, right, takes pictures with supporters outside a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Former Rep. George Santos, right, takes pictures with supporters outside a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

A banner in support of Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is set up before a campaign rally in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

A banner in support of Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is set up before a campaign rally in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Supporters of the Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump pick up posters ahead of a campaign rally in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Supporters of the Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump pick up posters ahead of a campaign rally in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, May. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks with construction workers at the construction site of the new JPMorgan Chase headquarters in midtown Manhattan, April 25, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, File)

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks with construction workers at the construction site of the new JPMorgan Chase headquarters in midtown Manhattan, April 25, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, File)

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