McConnell Backs Legislation to Force Divestment of TikTok

( – TikTok may be forced to sell its American components if Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) gets his way. McConnell called for divestment of the app’s US-based operations from China’s ByteDance on April 8. The video sharing social media app is currently estimated to be used by 170 million Americans.

McConnell argued that forcing divestment is well-within the law and constitutional precedents. He suggested that failure to force China to sell its US-based operations is a threat to America’s children. He highlighted that TikTok is currently being controlled by America’s largest strategic rival and suggested the app is already undermining American security.

The House of Representatives passed legislation on March 13 that gives ByteDance 6-months to sell its US-assets, or be banned outright. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said that she was going to meet with Senate Intelligence Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to formulate a “game plan” on how to advance divestment.

Schumer has yet to give an official position on TikTok, but he told reporters on Friday, April 5 that they were working on “a path forward.” He highlighted that the bill has bipartisan support, and said he anticipated something coming out of the Senate on the issue in the coming weeks or months.

Cantwell told the media that she was concerned about the possibility of foreign governments messing with American citizens.

Efforts to regulate the app have been stymied by lobbying efforts by China as well as popular support for the app. TikTok officials claim the app is protected by the First Amendment.

Lawmakers and independent experts have identified multiple ways the app can harm users. There were multiple accusations that China’s communist government was gleaming information, including locations of individual users, as well as using the app to steal other information off users’ phones.

Some have suggested the algorithm is adjusted in the U.S. such that children are shown dangerous “viral challenges” that encourage self-harm or dangerous stunts. Recently, an illegal immigrant was arrested after his videos encouraging other illegals to invade empty homes and squat were scrutinized by law enforcement.

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