US Senate Approves Bill to Potentially Ban TikTok As ByteDance Faces Nine-Month Ultimatum

The United States Senate has approved a contentious legislation that could ban TikTok’s presence in America.

The bill, once signed into law by President Joe Biden, will demand ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, to divest its stake within nine months or the app will risk being barred in the United States.

ByteDance, in response, expressed no immediate reaction to the Senate’s decision.

Previously, the tech giant had vehemently opposed any pressure to sell TikTok. Nonetheless, President Biden, who has pledged his support for the bill, awaits its arrival on his desk for formal approval.

This development comes amidst heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, with China promising staunch opposition to any forced sale of TikTok. The measure was passed as part of a package of four bills which also included military aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other US partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Seventy-nine Senators voted in favor of it, while eighteen opposed.

Senator Marco Rubio, the leading Republican on the Intelligence Committee, underscored the imperative of severing ties between TikTok and its Chinese overseers. “For years we’ve allowed the Chinese Communist Party to control one of the most popular apps in America that was dangerously short-sighted. A new law is going to require its Chinese owner to sell the app. This is a good move for America.” Rubio asserted.

The crux of the matter revolves around fears of data exploitation and national security risks, driving bipartisan efforts in Congress to disentangle TikTok from its Beijing-based parent company.

TikTok, in its defense, asserted that ByteDance is not a proxy of the Chinese government. It underscored its global ownership structure, with 60% of the company owned by international investment firms.

Shou Zi Chew, ByteDance’s CEO, reiterated the company’s commitment to safeguarding TikTok’s interests through all available legal avenues. Nonetheless, Congressional scrutiny, including two rounds of grilling within a year, has spotlighted concerns regarding TikTok’s ties to Chinese authorities.

Despite TikTok’s fervent lobbying efforts and rallying of its user base against the impending ban, legal experts anticipate protracted legal battles ahead.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias predicts a timeline of approximately two years for legal proceedings. Moreover, failure to secure a buyer for ByteDance’s stake within the stipulated nine-month period could further delay any definitive action against TikTok in the US.

Chioma Kalu

Follow us on: