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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

US Senate passes passes TikTok divestment-or-ban bill, sending it to Joe Biden

For more than four years, Congress has threatened to ban TikTok, citing risks to national security

Mathures Paul Calcutta Published 25.04.24, 09:30 AM
Representational image

Representational image File image

The US Senate has voted 79-18 to approve a bill with a divest-or-ban provision for TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. But the game is far from over.

For more than four years, Congress has threatened to ban TikTok, citing risks to national security. The Senate approval takes the bill to US President Joe Biden’s desk, who in March said he would sign the bill if it makes it through Congress.

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The first hurdle to the ban may come in the form of a lawsuit in which ByteDance may argue that it violates the First Amendment. Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, wrote in a memo to company staff over the weekend: “This is the beginning, not the end of this long process.”

Further, China-owned Bytedance will now have up to a year to divest from the app (before facing deletion from US app stores), meaning after the US election.

Former US President Donald Trump continues to attack Biden over how his government has handled the app. Yet, it was the Trump administration that first went after TikTok and in 2020 signed a series of executive orders banning apps like TikTok, Alipay and WeChat.

“Just so everyone knows, especially the young people, Crooked Joe Biden is responsible for banning TikTok. He is the one pushing it to close, and doing it to help his friends over at Facebook become richer and more dominant, and able to continue to fight, perhaps illegally, the Republican Party,” Trump wrote on Truth Social (a social media platform in which he has majority stake) on Monday.

If push comes to shove, ByteDance also has the option to establish TikTok US as an independent company with its own stock.

In the US, the app has been downloaded 170 million times. In India, TikTok once had an audience of 200 million users, and on June 29, 2020, the government pulled the plug, banning it amidst a conflict between India and China.

The US proposal was included in a larger $95 billion package that provides foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel.

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