Close-up of TikTok application icon
Close-up of TikTok application iconiStock

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted with bipartisan, overwhelming fashion to pass a bill that could lead to a nationwide ban against TikTok, CNN reported.

The bill would prohibit TikTok from US app stores unless the social media platform — used by roughly 170 million Americans — is spun off from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.

The House vote was 352 to 65, with 50 Democrats and 15 Republicans voting in opposition. It is not yet clear what the future of the bill will be in the Senate.

Lawmakers supportive of the bill have argued TikTok poses a national security threat because the Chinese government could use its intelligence laws against ByteDance, forcing it to hand over the data of US app users.

The bill would give ByteDance roughly five months to sell TikTok. If not divested by that time, it would be illegal for app store operators such as Apple and Google to make it available for download.

TikTok has called the legislation an attack on the constitutional right to freedom of expression for its users. It launched a call-to-action campaign within the app, urging users to call representatives in Washington to oppose the bill. Multiple congressional offices have said they’ve been flooded with calls.

In August of 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order giving Americans 45 days to stop doing business with ByteDance, saying Chinese tech operations may be used for spying.

Trump appears to have now backed away from his earlier stance against TikTok.

In a post on his Truth Social platform last week, Trump expressed opposition to a ban, arguing that if TikTok were out of the picture, Facebook would benefit as he attacked Facebook and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg as an “Enemy of the People.”

In a Monday interview with CNBC, Trump said it was a “tough decision” whether the US should ban TikTok and continued to argue that getting rid of it would benefit Facebook, adding that he thought, “Facebook has been very bad for our country.”

Last February, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure they do not have TikTok on federal devices and systems.

In addition, several states and cities have restricted TikTok on government devices, including the state of Montana, which passed a bill banning the app across the state, and New York City, which banned TikTok on government-owned devices in August of 2023, citing security concerns.