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TikTok bill faces uncertainty as it heads to the Senate

Joel Molina
The immensely popular social media app, TikTok, faces a ban in the U.S by the Supreme Court whose main concern is China accessing citizens private data.

The discussion of banning TikTok in the U.S had its largest hurdle on March 13 after a sweeping bipartisan effort voted for the effective ban. The bill known as the TikTok Bill will run through Senate and according to The Associated Press, the bill is not on the same page when it comes to preventing China from accessing citizens’ private data.  

If the bill passes, TikTok would be prohibited from app stores, like Apple and Google, as well as web hosting services until a sale occurs. 

TikTok is a well-known social media app with the majority being younger users. Lawmakers have attempted to shut down the app for years, but legislation’s control over web space and how people spend their time on apps like TikTok has never succeeded.  

“I mean, it’s almost embarrassing,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner. “I would hate for us to maintain our perfect zero batting average on tech legislation.” 

According to Statista, there are an estimated 102 million TikTok users in the United States, which is nearly a third of the population. With this bill passing through the Senate, it isn’t hard to find somebody who uses the app who won’t be affected if the bill passes.  

Patrick Avila, who has used TikTok since 2020, has mixed feelings about the app being banned.  

“I’m somewhat torn about it, but I wouldn’t be upset if they banned it. But if I had to choose, I would lean more toward banning it. The app that was once used for fun and entertainment has turned into conspiracies and fear. However, I do know people who find it valuable for fitness, nutrition, real estate, marketing, etc,” Avila said. “That is why I am more indifferent. I realize it’s a freedom of speech issue as well, but I also know there are certain groups who are eating up these conspiracy theories and spreading fear.”  

With this year being an important election year, some lawmakers fear reprisal from young voters if they follow through with a ban on the app. Warner does want it to be clear that the bill is not an outright ban but instead gives the option of TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell its controlling stake to a parent company in the U.S. 

In the past the company had issues with illegal data collection and misuse of personal data and has faced numerous fines from governments around the world, including U.S. and China.  

To gain support for the bill, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut and Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee have requested that intelligence agencies disclose classified information about TikTok and China’s ownership.

“It is critically important that the American people, especially TikTok users, understand the national security issues at stake,” the senators said in a joint statement. 

Paulina Salas says the bill is overkill.  

“Personally, I think the TikTok ban is a bit extreme. It’s like punishing all of us for the actions of a few bad apples. I understand concerns about data privacy, but I feel like there should be a better solution than a ban,” Salas said. “TikTok has been a fun way for me to connect with friends and stay entertained during quarantine. I just wish we could find a way so that we can continue to use the app safely if there are legitimate concerns over our data being stolen.” 

As deliberations continue, the fate of TikTok looms in the balance. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been mum on whether the bill will make it to the floor. Opting to assure that the bill is now under review.  

Jorge Guajardo is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Jorge Guajardo
Jorge Guajardo, Staff Reporter
Jorge Ian Guajardo, is 30 years old and born and raised in El Paso. He is majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in English rhetoric. He is a contributor at The Prospector looking to lay the foundation for a long and successful career in journalism once he graduates.
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Photo Editor
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is the photo editor who began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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