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CALL TO ACTION: Support Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (U.S. H.R. 7521)


By Lora Current, State Director Heritage Action for America | March 26, 2024

Last week, the U.S. House passed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (H.R. 7521). Heritage Action key voted in support of this important bill. 

 

There have been a number of questions about this bill and what it actually does. As always, we want to arm MFE Supporters with the facts. Heritage Action compiled a Myth vs. Fact Summary below.

 

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company answerable by law to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chinese intelligence services. As long as TikTok continues to operate under the ownership of ByteDance in the United States, it enables a foreign adversary to collect information on U.S. citizens and strengthens China’s ability to exploit Americans. 

 

H.R. 7521 addresses the uniquely threatening conduct, influence, and structure of TikTok-–not the content posted by Americans that the application hosts.

 

There will be a big fight in the Senate to pass this bill. It’s important that Senator Peters and Senator Stabenow hear from you. This is a unique issue and all members – Republicans and Democrats – need to hear from their constituents. You can call your Senators’ offices at (202) 224-6221 and (202) 224-4822 and we’ve put together talking points for when you call the office.


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) presents the most significant combination of risks to our national security, economy, and civil society that the United States is facing today. Both at the federal and state level, lawmakers must confront the threat of Communist China as it actively seeks to influence, infiltrate, and undermine the U.S. political system.

 

Please don’t hesitate to let Lora know if you have additional questions or concerns about the bill. She may be reached at lora.current@heritageforamerica.org


 

 

Myth Number 1: This bill would ban TikTok.

FACT: The bill gives TikTok a choice: either its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, must divest its ownership and sell the application to a non-Chinese, non-Russian, non-Iranian, or non-North Korean buyer, or the app will face restrictions on its availability in U.S. app stores, such as those operated by Google or Apple. Access to the app would only be disrupted if ByteDance refuses to comply with the divestiture requirement.

 

Myth Number 2: This bill targets TikTok users.

FACT: This does not include any enforcement action against individual TikTok users. In contrast, the bill requires covered applications to provide users with their data in a format that can be transferred to another social media app.

 

Myth Number 3: This bill would violate the 1st amendment and censor free speech.

FACT: The bill does nothing to restrict any content users post or any matter that might implicate the 1st amendment. It narrowly limits foreign ownership of applications to not include foreign adversaries. Regulating business conduct, not content, has long been upheld by the Supreme Court as distinct from the 1st Amendment.

 

Myth Number 4: TikTok’s abuse should be addressed through privacy legislation.

FACT: Simply enacting privacy laws to restrict the access of data from China would not resolve the myriad issues stemming from CCP control of TikTok. The company claimed to do this through its infamous “Project Texas” yet, as the Wall Street Journal reported, personnel in China simply continued to access user data. Even strict privacy standards, such as those imposed in the EU, do not adequately address influence campaigns and the promotion of content harmful to children. Privacy laws would help, but they will not address the full scope of the national security threat emanating from CCP control over TikTok via ByteDance.

 

Myth Number 5: This bill would make other social media companies more powerful.

FACT: Nearly every TikTok user in the U.S. already uses other social media profiles. In fact, separating TikTok from its Chinese owners would likely make the app itself more attractive to potential users who are currently hesitant due to security concerns.

 

Myth Number 6: The bill gives the President an expansive new power to ban other apps.

FACT: The proposed legislation does not grant the President broad authority to ban apps at will. Instead, it establishes a stringent set of criteria that must be met before the narrow prohibition on foreign ownership can be applied to other applications. First, an application would need to be owned and controlled by China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea. Next, it must pose a significant threat to U.S. national security. Then the President must document and publicly disclose that threat to the U.S. Congress before initiating any enforcement actions against an application.

 

Myth Number 7: This bill is a slippery slope that would be used against conservatives.

FACT: The bill leaves no room for interpretation by bureaucrats when it comes to the question of ownership. It explicitly and narrowly defines the scope of its application to foreign adversary-controlled applications and associated websites controlled by China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea that pose a national security threat—a list that is both in statute and can only be changed by an act of Congress. (The reference to “websites” exists to ensure that foreign adversary controlled websites like TikTok.com don’t live on once app stores prohibit the apps themselves from being downloaded, should divestment fail.) Further, no individual users of the app can be targeted by the bill’s enforcement mechanisms.

 

Myth Number 8: TikTok is too big for anyone to buy.

FACT: Despite TikTok's estimated value of hundreds of billions of dollars, several potential buyers have expressed interest in acquiring the company outright in recent years. The prospect of this legislation has further increased interest in such a deal. If ByteDance chooses not to sell TikTok following the passage of this bill, it would strongly suggest that the Chinese Communist Party board members have a significant non-financial motive to maintain the app's surveillance capabilities for the Chinese government.


 

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The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Michigan Fair Elections. Every article written by an MFE author is generated by the author or editor alone. Links embedded within the article, however, may have been generated by artificial intelligence.

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