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  • Writer's pictureJVC

The TikTok Ban That Isn't

Once again, the media is playing on your emotions with headlines about "banning TikTok." Videos and articles are circulating, claiming that the popular app is about to be banned in the United States.


But as usual, there's more to the story than what the headlines suggest.


Surprisingly, none of the major news outlets have provided the full title or bill number for readers to inform themselves.


After some digging with the help of AI to quickly search through the internet, I found the bill in question: H.R. 7521, the "Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act."


The Misleading Media Narrative


I'm frustrated by how the media has handled this story. The obsession with the "TikTok ban" narrative is a prime example of sensationalism overshadowing the truth.


By focusing solely on the potential ban, news outlets, influencers and Facebook posts have failed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the bill's contents and its real implications. This selective reporting not only leaves the public misinformed but also makes it difficult for people like you and me to form our own opinions based on facts.


It's a troubling trend that underscores the need for more responsible and thorough journalism, especially when it comes to complex issues like national security and technology regulation.


The Real Goal of H.R. 7521


Despite the media's focus on "banning TikTok," the actual goal of the bill is to protect U.S. national security from apps controlled by foreign adversaries.


The bill aims to address concerns about data privacy and potential threats posed by companies like ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok.


However, rather than an outright ban, the bill seeks to push TikTok and other "foreign adversary-controlled applications" to become U.S.-controlled entities.


H.R. 7521 gives the government significant power to prohibit apps deemed a national security threat. Under Sec. 2(a), it becomes unlawful for entities to distribute, maintain, or update foreign adversary-controlled applications in the U.S. (with exceptions of course).


The Attorney General is empowered to investigate potential violations and pursue civil enforcement, with penalties up to $5,000 per U.S. user (Sec. 2(d)).


With 150 million US users, that could lead to a 750 billion dollar charge on Tik Tok. Although the likely hood of that is slim.


The President is also granted the authority to determine which covered companies are "controlled by a foreign adversary" and pose a national security risk, triggering the app ban (Sec. 2(g)(3)(B)).


It's clear that the government isn't messing around when it comes to protecting U.S. interests in the digital age.


The Path to Compliance


Here's the thing that the media has largely overlooked: H.R. 7521 doesn't immediately ban TikTok or other apps. Under Sec. 2(a)(2), the prohibition takes effect 180 days after the bill's enactment or the President's determination.


This gives companies like ByteDance time to pursue a "qualified divestiture" (Sec. 2(g)(6)). In essence, if TikTok can separate its U.S. operations from Chinese control and ownership, it can continue operating in the United States.


The bill is more about forcing TikTok to become a U.S.-controlled company than banning it outright.


Potential for Overreach


While the bill aims to protect national security, some provisions could enable broader control over foreign tech companies and communication platforms.


The definition of "foreign adversary controlled application" (Sec. 2(g)(3)) grants significant latitude to target companies based on foreign ownership, even if not directly tied to ByteDance.


The "controlled by a foreign adversary" criteria (Sec. 2(g)(1)) sets a low bar, including 20%+ stakes or subjective "direction or control." The focus on banning entire applications rather than specific unlawful content could lead to over-blocking.


The expedited judicial review process (Sec. 3) may also make it harder to challenge designations and bans.


As someone who values free speech and open communication, I'm concerned about the potential for overreach.


Conclusion


H.R. 7521, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, is more nuanced than the media's "TikTok ban" narrative suggests. While driven by valid national security concerns, the bill primarily seeks to push TikTok and similar apps to become U.S.-controlled entities.


However, the broad powers granted to the government raise questions about potential overreach and the impact on free communication.


As the bill moves forward don't let the media's sensationalism distract you from the real story – stay informed, think critically, and make up your own mind about this complex issue.



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