TikTok faces ban in the US after Senators pass controversial bill

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 24 April 2024 at 08:58

Short video-sharing platform TikTok now faces a ban in the United States after Senators voted to pass a bill seeking its restriction or sale in the country on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

The controversial legislation gives TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, nine months to sell its stake or face the consequences of the app being blacklisted in US app stores.

Both Republicans and Democrats have claimed that TikTok threatens national security as the platform could be used by Beijing to spy on Americans and manipulate public debate.

The bill will now be forwarded to President Joe Biden, who had earlier indicated that he would not hesitate to sign the legislation once it reaches his desk.

The legislation, part of a package of four bills including military aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and other US partners in the Indo-Pacific region, received support from 79 senators with only 18 legislators opposing it.

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

"A new law is going to require its Chinese owner to sell the app. This is a good move for America," he added.

The vote came barely a week after Republicans in the House of Representatives passed the package on Saturday in a 360-58 bipartisan vote.

TikTok had issued a statement condemning the bill, accusing lawmakers of trampling on citizens’ free speech.

“It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans,” TikTok said in a statement on Sunday.

The Chinese company insists that it has never shared American users’ data with the Chinese government and never will.