Li_DanLi_Dan ・ Apr. 13, 2024
Venture Capitalists Call for a Ban as Senate Weighs Extending TikTok Sale Deadline
If the longer deadline materialized, any potential TikTok ban would be put well into 2025 and beyond the November US presidential election.

 TMTPost -- Two leading venture capitalists called on U.S. lawmakers to pass a bill to ban TikTok, labeling the popular short video social app owned by ByteDance an artificial intelligence (AI) weapon of China.

Credit:Xinhua News Agency

Credit:Xinhua News Agency

In their open letter to senators Thursday, Jacob Helberg, senior advisor to Palantir CEO, and Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, called for joining them in support of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, (the TikTok Divestiture Bill), claiming it’s time to divest TikTok from control under the Chinese government. Helberg and Khosla in the letter compared the bill with decades-old restrictions on foreign ownership of U.S. media outlets since TikTok is “the most potent foreign espionage and propaganda assault ever directed against the United States.” Anyone who cares about free speech should support the bill as the legislation narrowly focuses on TikTok’s conduct, not the speech of the company’s users, and targets its corporate ownership structure, not the content of its platform, according to the letter. 

The letter came as the U.S. senators are weighing extension of a TikTok sale deadline. Lawmakers could extend to one year a proposed deadline to force ByteDance to divest TikTok, Maria Cantwell, chair of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, told reporters on Wednesday. Reuters cited congressional aides that the idea of a one-year deadline has been discussed. If the longer deadline materialized, any potential TikTok ban would be put well into 2025 and beyond the November U.S. presidential election.

The U.S. House approved the TikTok Divestiture Bill by a an overwhelming vote of 352 to 65 last month. The bill aims to "protect the national security of the United States from the threat posed by foreign adversary controlled applications" like TikTok. If the bill becomes into law, it would give ByteDance 165 days 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 as the bill prohibit distributing TikTok and other apps developed by ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant’s subsidiaries and other firms “controlled by a foreign adversary.”CNN commented the bill is the most aggressive legislation targeting TikTok to come out of a congressional committee since company CEO Shou Zi Chew testified to lawmakers last year that the app poses no threat to Americans.

House passage is only a major step toward the legislation. The bill still requires a majority vote in the Senate before U.S. President Joe Biden signs it into law. The White House had suggested it endorsed the bill. A White House National Security Council spokesperson called the bill "an important and welcome step," adding that the Biden administration would work with Congress "to further strengthen this legislation and put it on the strongest possible legal footing." "This bill is important, we welcome this step," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last month. But she said the White House doesn't see the bill as a ban on TikTok but rather ensuring its "ownership isn't in the hands of those who may do us harm. This is about our national security, obviously," according to Jean-Pierre.

China will do whatever it takes to resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests, He Yadong, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, said after the U.S. House vote. The U.S. side should earnestly respect the market economy and the principle of fair competition, cease unjust suppression of foreign companies and provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for enterprises from all countries, He commented at a regular press conference last month.

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