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Biden will ban TikTok unless Chinese owner ByteDance sells it

TikTok could be banned in the US

After a vote in the Senate tied to foreign aid late on Tuesday, President Biden will sign into law a requirement for ByteDance to sell or divest its TikTok platform within a year.

The combination bill including a potential TikTok ban was approved first by the House of Representatives, and now also by the Senate. President Biden says he will sign it into law on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

According to Reuters, the legislation mandates that TikTok will be banned if ByteDance does not divest its ownership within nine months. There is a possible extension of a further three months if a deal is still in progress.

The US government's stated concern is that ByteDance is a Chinese company and therefore the country's government could access the data of US TikTok users. ByteDance continues to insist that it has never and would never pass data to China's government.

"For years we've allowed the Chinese Communist party to control one of the most popular apps in America that was dangerously shortsighted," Senator Marco Rubio told Reuters. "A new law is going to require its Chinese owner to sell the app. This is a good move for America."

The Senate voted 79 to 18 in favor of the bill. It was attached to the measure to provide $95 billion in aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

Senator Ed Markey said that while the law was phrased so as to require ByteDance to divest, it was really still about banning TikTok.

"We should be very clear about the likely outcome of this law... it's really just a TikTok ban," he said. "Censorship is not who we are as a people. We should not downplay or deny this trade-off."

ByteDance has not yet commented publicly on the Senate's approval of the legislation, or of President Biden saying he will sign it into law. However, Reuters reports that the company told TikTok staff that it will quickly protest the case in court.

The US government's aim to ban TikTok began in 2020 with former President Trump. He is presently, though, claiming to be against banning it.