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U.S. Senate Just Passed An Ultimatum For TikTok Divest Or Be Banned


U.S. Senate Just Passed An Ultimatum For TikTok: Divest Or Be Banned

The U.S. Senate passed a foreign aid package yesterday that included an ultimatum for TikTok, forcing it to sell its U.S. operations or face a nationwide ban. The legislation, approved by the House of Representatives last Saturday, gives TikTok up to one year to find a buyer for its U.S. business. President Joe Biden has said he intends to sign the bill into law on Wednesday.

The move intensifies years of pressure from U.S. lawmakers who cite national security and data privacy concerns over TikTok’s Beijing-based owner, ByteDance.

“Even as our social media platforms have fumbled in their response to foreign influence operations, there was never any concern that these platforms are operating at the direction of foreign adversaries,” said Mark Warner, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I cannot say the same for TikTok.”

Congress has threatened to ban TikTok for over four years due to potential risks to national security. A previous bill passed by the House last month gave TikTok just six months to divest, but senators argued more time was needed. The new legislation extends that deadline up to a year.

TikTok criticized the vote. “It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign aid and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans,” the company told The Washington Post on Saturday.

The effort to restrict TikTok has become politically complicated as more politicians join the platform for the 2024 election cycle. After initially avoiding the app, Biden’s re-election campaign created an official TikTok account in February.

Former President Donald Trump took it to Truth Social to blame Biden for the ban. “Just so everyone knows, especially the young people, Crooked Joe Biden is responsible for banning TikTok. He is the one pushing it to close, and doing it to help his friends over at Facebook become richer and more dominant, and able to continue to fight, perhaps illegally, the Republican Party,” he wrote, describing the affair as “ELECTION INTERFERENCE.”

Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell said, “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.”

However, critics argue that comprehensive data privacy legislation could address lawmakers’ concerns over TikTok’s security practices and those of U.S. companies, according to Wired

Kate Ruane of the Center for Democracy and Technology said, “Congress could pass comprehensive consumer privacy legislation, which would take more meaningful steps toward addressing a lot of the data privacy concerns that have been raised about TikTok.”

The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk as tensions escalate between the U.S. and TikTok over the future of the hugely popular app within America’s borders.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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