US passes ban that could ban TikTik unless ByteDance sells it

Only a week ago reports came out that a new bill is looking to force ByteDance to divest TikTok or face a ban in the US. And now that bill has passed the US House of Representatives (with a strong bipartisan support, the vote went 352-65).

The next stop, the Senate. Senator Rand Paul opposes the ban, so there may be hope. But if the bill passes, President Joe Biden has stated that he would sign the bill into law (even though the Biden reelection campaign joined TikTok a month ago).

Back in 2020, several US companies were interested into acquiring TikTok’s global operations, including Microsoft (TikTok is the global counterpart to the Chinese social network Douyin). However, Chinese officials opposed such a sale.

But we’re back at pretty much the same spot – the bill, if signed into law, would require ByteDance to sell within the span of six months. After that, US companies would be banned from hosting ByteDance apps on their app stores and from providing web hosting services. In other words, TikTok would be banned from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

This is far from over and there are many legal hoops to jump through. For example, last year the state of Montana banned TikTok, but a few months later a federal judge blocked the ban (and this wasn’t even the first time a ban was overturned). Of course, ByteDance and Chinese officials will be pushing for a different approach.

TikTok is massive, it reached 1 billion monthly users back in 2021 and was the first app to reach $10 billion in-app spending last year. There is a lot of money to be made or lost, depending on how the legal situation shakes out.

TikTok is not the only one under fire here, by the way, the so-called Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act might also affect the likes of WeChat (owned by tech giant Tencent).

Several organizations within the US oppose the ban too. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and the Fight for the Future organization are against it too and wrote to the House of Energy and Commerce Committee on the matter. The EFF and ACLU even wrote a brief to support overturning the Montana ban.

Here’s what the EFF wrote in a blogpost: “Instead of passing this overreaching and misguided bill, Congress should prevent any company—regardless of where it is based—from collecting massive amounts of our detailed personal data, which is then made available to data brokers, U.S. government agencies, and even foreign adversaries, China included. We shouldn’t waste time arguing over a law that will get thrown out for silencing the speech of millions of Americans. Instead, Congress should solve the real problem of out-of-control privacy invasions by enacting comprehensive consumer data privacy legislation.”

Source | Via

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