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Senate Ready to Pass Legislation that Might Prohibit TikTok

Tik Tok Ban (Credits: Rolling Stone)

The Senate is on the brink of passing an outstanding bill as part of a broader foreign aid package, potentially paving the way for a ban on the popular social media platform TikTok.

With a vote of 80-19, the Senate moved to limit debate on the package, which includes a provision targeting TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance. This provision would mandate ByteDance to sell TikTok or risk a ban from U.S. devices and networks.

Alongside the TikTok provision, the House-approved package allocates $95 billion in foreign aid, distributed among Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

House passes bill that could ban TikTok (Credits: NBC News)

Despite opposition from senators across party lines, the inclusion of the TikTok provision in the general package indicates its likely journey to the president’s desk. A final vote could occur as early as Tuesday night, with President Biden expected to sign the foreign aid package if it clears the Senate.

The bill’s amendment extends the timeframe for ByteDance to divest from TikTok, easing concerns raised by some senators, including Maria Cantwell and Mark Warner.

Advocates of the bill emphasize the necessity of addressing national security risks associated with TikTok’s ties to its China-based parent company, echoing concerns raised in classified briefings received by lawmakers.

Warner, in particular, appealed to the public, especially TikTok’s young user base, acknowledging their skepticism and emphasizing the bill’s aim to ensure TikTok’s continuation under new ownership not tied to a foreign adversary.

However, critics argue that the bill raises free speech concerns and fails to tackle broader industry-wide issues surrounding data privacy and social media app risks, instead singling out one company.

Ban on TikTok (Credits: The Hill)

In addition to targeting TikTok, the bill empowers the president to designate other foreign adversary-controlled apps with ties to countries like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

TikTok has vehemently opposed the legislation, asserting that it infringes on the free speech rights of millions of Americans and poses a threat to businesses.

Even if signed into law, the bill is expected to face legal challenges that could prolong its implementation timeline, mirroring similar efforts at both federal and state levels in the past.

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