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  • Voltaire Staff

US Senate passes bill that paves way for China-backed TikTok's exit from country

The United States' Senate has passed a Bill that would compel ByteDance, the China-based company behind TikTok, to sell the popular social media platform in the country or risk a ban.

The legislation is now expected to become law as it forms part of a foreign aid package.

US President Joe Biden has indicated his intention to sign the bill once it reaches his desk, following its approval by both chambers of Congress. The House passed the foreign aid package containing the TikTok bill over the weekend, reported The Verge.

Under the proposed law, ByteDance would have up to a year to finalise the sale of TikTok. Failure to do so could result in a ban on the platform in the US.

ByteDance is given nine months to complete the sale, with the possibility of a three-month extension if progress is made toward a deal. However, legal challenges may potentially delay the enforcement of the Bill.

This is the second time the House has approved the Bill. Initially, they passed it on its own as a standalone measure with a shorter timeframe of about six months for ByteDance to sell TikTok, but the key Senate leaders were unsure about it.

By including the TikTok bill in a vital foreign aid package, the House pushed the Senate to deal with it sooner. They also extended the time for ByteDance to sell TikTok, which gained more support in the Senate. In the end, the Bill passed by a vote of 79 vs 18.

US officials fear TikTok's Chinese ownership jeopardises American user data due to China's national security law. Although TikTok claims not to store US data in China, concerns persist about potential Chinese government influence on content and user messaging.

"Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok or any other individual company," Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, stated on the Senate floor before the vote.

"Congress is acting to prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations, harming vulnerable Americans, our servicemen and women, and our U.S. government personnel," she added.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) said, "The truth is, these Chinese companies at the end of the day, they don’t owe their obligation to their customers, or their shareholders, but they owe it to the PRC government."

"I want to make clear to all Americans, this is not an effort to take your voice away," he added.

According to Bloomberg, TikTok has told its employees that if the law passes, the company will challenge it in court.

Biden, in an official statement released shortly after the Senate's passage of the bill, said, "I will sign this bill into law and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week."


Image source: Unsplash


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