Sat. May 25th, 2024

The United States Senate has passed a controversial bill that could lead to a nationwide ban on the popular social media app TikTok.

The bill, which targets TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance, mandates that the company divest its stake within nine months or face the app’s blocking across the country. This bill now awaits the signature of President Joe Biden, who has indicated he will sign it into law upon receipt.

The bill’s approval is part of a broader legislative package, which includes provisions for military aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and other U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific region. The legislation received significant bipartisan support in the Senate, with 79 Senators voting in favor and only 18 against.

The bill’s goal is to mitigate perceived national security risks associated with ByteDance’s ownership of TikTok, as many lawmakers believe the app poses a threat to user data privacy and could be used by the Chinese government for espionage purposes.

TikTok, however, has voiced strong opposition to the bill. The company has expressed concerns over the impact on free speech and the potential economic fallout if TikTok is banned. ByteDance, the parent company, has stated it is not an agent of the Chinese government and pointed to the fact that 60% of its ownership is in the hands of global investment firms.

TikTok’s Chief Executive, Shou Zi Chew, has assured that the company will explore all available legal avenues to protect the platform from a potential ban.

Given the tight timeline set by the bill, it remains unclear whether ByteDance will find a buyer for its stake in TikTok within the nine-month period. University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias indicated that this could lead to a prolonged legal battle, potentially stretching for up to two years, and noted that if no buyer is found, any action against TikTok in the U.S. could face significant delays.

Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, voiced his support for the bill, emphasizing the risks associated with Chinese ownership of one of the most popular social media platforms in the U.S.

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