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

US House lawmakers on Thursday voted to advance a bill that would ban TikTok from US app stores unless the social media platform’s parent, ByteDance, divests the company, CNN reports.

The measure passed unanimously by the House Energy and Commerce Committee reflects renewed bipartisan efforts to respond to national security concerns linked to the popular app.

The draft legislation would prohibit TikTok from US app stores unless the social media platform — used by roughly 170 million Americans — is quickly spun off from its China-linked parent company, ByteDance.

If enacted, the bill would give ByteDance 165 days, or a little more than five months, to sell TikTok. If not divested by that date, it would be illegal for app store operators such as Apple and Google to make it available for download. The bill also contemplates similar prohibitions for other apps “controlled by foreign adversary companies.”

The bill was introduced with some bipartisan support earlier this week by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, who chairs a House select committee on China, and the ranking member of that committee, Illinois Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. The legislation also has the support of the White House and House Speaker Mike Johnson, though its prospects in the Senate are unclear.

TikTok has faced rising concerns over national security due to Chinese parent company ByteDance. Both parties in Washington have become increasingly concerned that the Chinese government could use its legal powers to access the user data of American citizens or to spread misinformation.

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. The company later announced it will challenge the crackdown on the service in court.

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.