The US Senate passed a bill to take down or ban TikTok, Biden is ready to make it a law

The US Senate passed a bill to take down or ban TikTok, Biden is ready to make it a law

The US Senate voted by a wide margin late Tuesday in favor of legislation that would have banned TikTok in the United States if its owner, Chinese technology firm ByteDance, failed to release the popular short video app within nine months to a year.

Driven by widespread concern among US lawmakers that China could access Americans’ data or surveil them with the app, the bill was passed by the US House of Representatives on Saturday and US President Joe Biden said he would sign it into law. -law on Wednesday.

For years we have allowed the Chinese Communist party to control one of America’s most popular apps which is dangerously myopic,” said Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. “The new law will require its owner to be from China. to sell applications. This is a good step for America.”

Asked about the National Assembly vote, China’s foreign ministry referred on Wednesday to comments the ministry made in March when the House of Representatives passed a similar bill.

At the time, the ministry criticized the law, arguing that “although the US has never found any evidence of TikTok posing a threat to US national security, it has never stopped pursuing TikTok.”

The four-year battle over TikTok, which is used by 170 million people in the United States, is just one front in the war over the internet and technology between Washington and Beijing. Last week, Apple said Beijing had ordered it to remove WhatsApp and Thread Platform Meta from its App Store in China over Chinese national security concerns.

TikTok is set to challenge the bill on First Amendment grounds and TikTok users are also expected to take legal action again. A US judge in Montana in November blocked the state’s ban on TikTok, citing freedom of speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union said banning or requiring TikTok’s takedown would “set a worrisome global precedent for excessive government control over social media platforms. …If the United States now bans foreign-owned platforms, it will invite copycat moves by others.” country.”

TikTok, which says it does not and will not share US user data with the Chinese government, did not immediately comment but has told employees it will soon go to court to try to block the legislation.

“This is the beginning, not the end of this long process,” TikTok told staff on Saturday in an email seen by Reuters.

The Senate voted 79 to 18 in favor of the bill, which was attached to a measure to provide $95 billion in mostly military aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The TikTok disposal directive won swift approval after it was introduced a few weeks ago.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump was blocked by the courts in his efforts to block China’s TikTok and WeChat, a unit of Tencent, opens a new tab, in the United States.

However, the new law is likely to give the Biden administration a stronger legal footing to ban TikTok if ByteDance fails to release the app, experts said.

If ByteDance fails to release TikTok, app stores operated by Apple, Alphabet Google and others cannot legally offer TikTok or provide web hosting services to ByteDance-controlled apps or TikTok websites.

The bill would also give the White House new tools to ban or compel the sale of other foreign-owned apps deemed a security threat.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said he was concerned the bill “provides broad powers that could be abused by future administrations to violate America’s First Amendment rights.”

Once the bill is signed into law, ByteDance will have 270 days to divest TikTok’s US operations with a possible three-month extension if there are signs a deal is underway.

Democratic Senator Ed Markey said it would be difficult, if not impossible, for ByteDance to divest by early 2025, adding that the sale would be one of the most complicated and expensive transactions in history, requiring months if not years of due diligence.

“We should be very clear about the possible outcome of this law. It is actually just a ban on TikTok,” he said. “Censorship is not who we are as a people. We should not minimize or deny this exchange.”

The bill could also become an issue in November’s presidential campaign, with Republican presidential candidate Trump urging young voters to consider a possible ban on TikTok.

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