US Senate passes bill to ban TikTok if ByteDance doesn’t sell it

The U.S. Senate has passed legislation with a wide margin that would ban TikTok in the United States if ByteDance fails to divest the popular app within the next nine months to a year. The bill, driven by concerns among U.S. lawmakers about potential data access and surveillance by China through the app, was previously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, highlighted the dangers of allowing the Chinese Communist Party to control such a popular app in America. He stated, “A new law is going to require its Chinese owner to sell the app. This is a good move for America.”

The battle over TikTok, used by 170 million people in the United States, represents just one front in the ongoing conflict over internet and technology between Washington and Beijing. Last week, Apple announced that Beijing had ordered the removal of Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp and Threads from its App Store in China due to national security concerns.

TikTok plans to challenge the bill on First Amendment grounds, and TikTok users are expected to take legal action as well. Previously, a U.S. judge in Montana blocked a state ban on TikTok, citing free speech grounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concerns that banning or requiring divestiture of TikTok would set a dangerous global precedent for excessive government control over social media platforms. They warned that if the United States bans a foreign-owned platform, it could lead to similar measures by other countries.

TikTok, which claims it has not shared and would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government, has indicated it will quickly go to court to try to block the legislation.

Written by Sophie Blake


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