Updated April 24th, 2024 at 16:57 IST

US Senate passes bill forcing ByteDance to divest TikTok US or face ban

Despite bipartisan support, some senators have voiced reservations about the bill's broad authority and its potential implications for free speech.

Reported by: Business Desk
The bill passed by the US House of Representatives seeks to force ByteDance to sell its stake in the social media company or face a ban in the US. | Image:AP
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ByteDance TikTok divestment: The US Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that could result in the banning of TikTok in the country if its Chinese owner, ByteDance, fails to divest the app within the next nine to twelve months. Concerns over national security and data privacy have been central to the debate, with lawmakers expressing fears that the Chinese government could access Americans' data through the popular video-sharing platform.

Senator Marco Rubio, highlighting bipartisan support for the move, underlined the necessity of requiring ByteDance to sell the app, framing it as a crucial step for American interests. In response, the Chinese foreign ministry reiterated its opposition to such actions, arguing against the lack of evidence supporting TikTok as a national security threat.

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The bill's passage indicates the ongoing tension between Washington and Beijing over internet governance and technology. This comes amidst other recent developments, such as Apple's removal of Meta Platforms' apps from its China App Store due to national security concerns.

TikTok has vowed to challenge the legislation on First Amendment grounds, echoing previous legal battles and highlighting its commitment to protecting user data. The potential impact of the bill extends beyond TikTok, raising concerns about government overreach and setting a precedent for global internet regulation.

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Despite bipartisan support, some senators have voiced reservations about the bill's broad authority and its potential implications for free speech. ByteDance now faces a tight timeline to divest TikTok's US operations, with significant challenges anticipated in completing such a complex transaction.

As the bill awaits President Joe Biden's signature, its implications for the future of social media regulation and international relations remain uncertain, setting the stage for further legal battles and political debates.

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(With Reuters inputs)

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Published April 24th, 2024 at 15:53 IST