TikTok: The US Congress approves a bill that could lead to a ban on the application

Comment on the photo, President Biden said he would sign the bill into law

  • author, Joao da Silva and Kelly Ng
  • Role, BBC News

The US Senate has approved a controversial, historic bill that could lead to TikTok being banned in America.

It gives TikTok's Chinese owner, ByteDance, nine months to sell its stake or the app will be banned in the United States.

The bill will now be delivered to US President Joe Biden, who has said he will sign it into law once it reaches his desk.

ByteDance told the BBC that it had no immediate response to the move. The company previously said it would oppose any attempt to force it to sell TikTok.

If the US succeeds in forcing ByteDance to sell TikTok, any deal would still need approval from Chinese officials, but Beijing has vowed to oppose any such move. Analysts say the process could take years.

The measure was passed as part of a package of four bills that also includes military aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other US partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

It received widespread support from lawmakers, with 79 senators voting in favor and 18 against.

“For years we allowed the Chinese Communist Party to take control of one of the most popular apps in America, which was dangerously short-sighted,” said Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee.

Concerns that the private data of millions of Americans could fall into China's hands have prompted congressional efforts to separate TikTok from the Beijing-based company.

Last week, the social media company said the bill “would crush the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, destroy seven million businesses, and shut down a platform that contributes $24 billion to the American economy annually.”

TikTok said ByteDance is “not an agent of China or any other country.” ByteDance insists it is not a Chinese company, pointing to global investment firms that own 60% of it.

Its CEO, Xu Ziqiu, he said last month The company will continue to do everything it can, including exercising its “legal rights,” to protect the platform.

Xu has been questioned by Congress twice in less than a year, and has downplayed the app's relationship — and his personal ties — to Chinese authorities.

The social media platform has made efforts to rally support against the potential ban, including specialization Pressure campaign.

It also encouraged TikTok users and creators to voice their opposition to the bill.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told the BBC that a long legal battle was likely to follow, “which could take about two years.”

He also said that if a buyer for ByteDance's stake is not found within the nine-month period, it could further delay any action against TikTok in the US.

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