President Biden Signs Potential TikTok Ban Into Law

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President Biden Signs Potential TikTok Ban Into Law

The clock is now truly running in the effort to ban social media platform TikTok in the United States.

President Joe Biden signed legislation that would force TikTok owner ByteDance to either sell the supremely popular platform or have the app banned for U.S. users into law Wednesday as part of a larger bill that also included foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel. The provision gives ByteDance nine months to arrange a sale and gives Biden the option of granting the Chinese tech firm an additional 90 days to complete it at his discretion. If no sale is reached, the app will be banned in the United States.

The potential TikTok ban landing on Biden’s desk proved surprising as it appeared that the bill had stalled after passing in the House of Representatives last month. That bill was altered to expand the timeframe for ByteDance to divest TikTok and ended up being packaged with legislation to provide aid to Ukrainian defense against Russia and Israel’s continuing genocide in Gaza. That effectively forced the Senate’s hand in evaluating the issue.

Discussions of banning TikTok within American borders have proliferated for years dating back to the Trump administration. Former President Trump openly flighted banning the app during his time in office (despite his current apparent reverse course on the issue.) Critics of the app pointed to the possibility of American user data being turned over to Chinese government officials due to a law requiring companies based in China to submit internal data if the government asks for it.

TikTok has responded to that charge by pointing out that while ByteDance is based in China, TikTok is based in Singapore and operates independently. The company also said it doesn’t store American user data in China. The company has pointed to its deal with Oracle to vet its algorithms and protect American user data in response to further claims by U.S. lawmakers that the app could be used by the Chinese government to influence what users see while using the platform.

While the new law requires ByteDance to sell TikTok within the one-year timeframe, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a sale of the app would include TikTok’s algorithms, arguably the most valuable asset the company holds.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew responded to the bill’s signing via TikTok, calling the development “a ban on TikTok and a ban on you and your voice” and “a disappointing moment” but not “a defining one.”

“Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere. We are confident and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts,” Chew said. “The facts and the Constitution are on our side, and we expect to prevail again.”

According to TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek, the company is expected to file legal challenges to the law.

“The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep U.S. data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation,” Haurek said in a statement. “As we continue to challenge this unconstitutional ban, we will continue investing and innovating to ensure TikTok remains a space where Americans of all walks of life can safely come to share their experiences, find joy, and be inspired.”


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