Bill to ban TikTok in America passed by US Senate

By Alessandro Carrara | Published: 24-Apr-2024

Once signed into law, TikTok’s owner Bytedance would have nine months to sell the social media platform worth billions or face it being blocked in the country

A bill to ban the use of TikTok in America unless the app is divested from its Chinese owner has been approved by the US Senate.

The bill has now been passed to US President Joe Biden, who has previously backed the legislation and is now set to officially sign it into law.

TikTok’s parent company Bytedance will have nine months to sell the social media platform, estimated to be worth over US $50bn, or face it being blocked in the country.

The legislation is expected to be challenged in US courts, however.

The push for greater control over the platform in America comes after US politicians expressed increasing concerns over the app’s alleged data privacy issues.

Chinese companies are legally required to share data with the country’s government if requested to do so.

TikTok said that it has taken steps to protect the data of its 150 million US users, but  reports claim the data is still being unofficially shared between TikTok in the US and Bytedance in China.

On 14 March, the US House of Representatives passed the previous stage of the bill to potentially ban the app.

Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, leaders of the Senate intelligence committee, said at the time that TikTok posed a “national security threat”.

They also added that it is a “platform with enormous power to influence and divide Americans" in a joint statement.

TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, hit back at the statements, and said the House of Representatives vote in March was “disappointing”.

He warned that a potential ban would take “billions of dollars out of the pockets of creators and small businesses” and “put more than 300,000 American jobs at risk”.

Commenting on the US Senate’s ruling on 23 April, TikTok  said the decision “would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans”.

TikTok has faced ongoing scrutiny around its data security.

In April 2023, TikTok was hit by a £12.7m fine by the UK’s data watchdog for allegedly failing to protect the privacy of children.

Government officials across countries including the US and UK have also been banned from having TikTok on government-issued phones due to security concerns.

More recently, the European Commission gave TikTok 24 hours to provide a risk assessment of its new money-for-views TikTok Lite app.

The app, which has been launched in France and Spain, features a ‘Reward Program’ which allows users to earn points from watching videos, liking content and following creators.

The Commission has raised concerns over the potential impact of the reward programme on minors.



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