May 30, 2024

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TikTok: The US Congress approves a bill that could lead to a ban on the application

TikTok: The US Congress approves a bill that could lead to a ban on the application

Comment on the photo, President Biden said he would sign the bill into law

  • author, Joao da Silva and Kelly Ng
  • Role, BBC News

The US Senate has approved a bill that could lead to TikTok being banned in America due to national security concerns.

It gives TikTok's Chinese owner, ByteDance, nine months to sell its stake or the app will be banned in the United States.

The bill will now be delivered to US President Joe Biden, who has said he will sign it into law once it reaches his desk.

TikTok told the BBC it had no immediate response to the move. Previously, Bytedance said it would oppose any attempt to force it to sell TikTok.

“It's a big deal,” Doug Kalidas, a technology expert at Harvard University's Belfer Centre, told the BBC.

“In just a few weeks, they were able to pass a law through both chambers, which rarely happens — to see them act so quickly on a matter of public concern.”

If the US succeeds in forcing ByteDance to sell TikTok, any deal would still need approval from Chinese officials – but China has vowed to oppose any such move.

It could take several years before the app is banned in the US, as legal action from ByteDance, likely to the Supreme Court, would delay the process.

The legislation then allows the company nine months to sell TikTok, with an additional three-month grace period.

If it is not sold in time, the app could be banned in the country, and the US says this is because it is concerned that TikTok could be used to spy on Americans, or to spread propaganda.

TikTok collects similar types of data to other apps, but the US is concerned that this data could fall into the hands of the Chinese government — claims the company has always disputed.

US politicians may also face public backlash, as they have more than 170 million users across the country.

Aid to Ukraine

The measure was passed as part of a package of four bills that also includes military aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other US partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

It received widespread support from lawmakers, with 79 senators voting in favor and 18 against.

“For years we allowed the Chinese Communist Party to take control of one of the most popular apps in America, which was dangerously short-sighted,” said Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee.

He added: “A new law will oblige its Chinese owner to sell the application. This is a good step for America.”

TikTok has cited civil liberties concerns in its defense.

Last week, the social media company said the bill “would crush the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, destroy seven million businesses, and shut down a platform that contributes $24 billion to the American economy annually.”

Its CEO, Xu Ziqiu, he said last month The company will continue to do everything it can, including exercising its “legal rights,” to protect the platform.

Xu has been questioned by Congress twice in less than a year, and has downplayed the app's relationship — and his personal ties — to Chinese authorities.

The social media platform has made efforts to rally support against the potential ban, including specialization Pressure campaign.

It also encouraged TikTok users and creators to voice their opposition to the bill.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told the BBC that a long legal battle was likely to follow, “which could take about two years.”

He also said that if a buyer for ByteDance's stake is not found within the nine-month period, it could further delay any action against TikTok in the US.