Biden signs bill setting deadline for TikTok’s Chinese owner to divest or face ban

Biden has signed a bill forcing the platform’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to divest ownership or face a ban

US President Joe Biden has signed new legislation that could potentially lead to TikTok being banned in the country. The bill was part of a heavily debated package that includes over $95 billion of foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.
After lengthy discussions between Democrats and Republicans, the House of Representatives approved the bill on Saturday and the Senate followed suit on Tuesday.
Under the new TikTok law, ByteDance – the platform’s Chinese owner – will have nine months to sell its business or have it barred from US app stores. If a sale process is initiated, the deadline could be extended by an additional three months.
Aside from forcing ByteDance to divest its ownership in the platform, the bill also bars it from controlling TikTok’s algorithm, which is used to feed content to the app’s users, based on their interests.
The legislation comes after a number of US officials expressed concerns that the app poses a risk to national security and could be used by Chinese authorities to obtain the private data of US citizens or influence their opinions by suppressing or promoting certain content on TikTok.

Explaining the approval of the bill, Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell stressed that “Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok or any other individual company”; it is making the move to “prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations, harming vulnerable Americans, our servicemen and women, and our US government personnel.”
TikTok has threatened to legally challenge the US government over the law. The company’s head of public policy for the Americas, Michael Beckerman, has described the bill as a violation of the First Amendment rights of the app’s 170 million users in the US and warned that the potential ban would also have “devastating consequences” for the nearly seven million businesses using the platform.
China has also blasted plans to ban TikTok in the US, describing such a move as “contrary to the principles of fair competition and international economic and trade rules” and accusing Washington of “bullying behavior” and “leveraging state power” against ByteDance.
Some US lawmakers have also opposed the bill, calling it a “cure” that is “worse than the disease” and raising concerns that it would give the White House the power to ban other websites and apps.
Elon Musk has also warned that the bill is “about censorship and government control,” while the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has denounced the legislation as “violating the free speech rights of millions of Americans” who use the platform daily.