Senate Passes Bill To Ban TikTok Unless ByteDance Divests

The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that could result in a ban on the popular TikTok app.

The measure -- which is part of a larger package that also includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan -- now heads to President Joe Biden for signature.

The provisions affecting TikTok would prohibit web hosting services and app marketplaces from distributing the app, unless it's sold within one year by its China-based parent company ByteDance. The House of Representatives passed the package on Saturday.

TikTok has said it will challenge the measure in court on First Amendment grounds. 

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who supports the provisions regarding TikTok, said during a floor discussion Tuesday afternoon that the proposed law “goes a long way to safeguard our democratic systems from foreign influence.”



The measure “is not an effort to take your voice away,” Warner said.

“We hope TikTok will continue under new ownership,” he added.

Warner also suggested the proposed law was justified by classified security information, noting that the public at large “has not seen what Congress has seen.”

Last month, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) likewise suggested that classified briefings warranted the potential ban. They argued in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence that declassifying information about TikTok and its ties to the Chinese government would shed light on potential security threats posed by the app.

Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) ultimately voted in favor of the package of bills, but before the vote he argued against a potential TikTok ban, saying it “could and likely will result in widespread censorship.”

While he acknowledged that TikTok could pose “some national security risks,” he said lawmakers should still “think carefully about the impact of this bill, the consequences of its implementation and the tradeoff between supposed national security threats and freedom of expression.”

Markey also cast doubt on whether ByteDance can sell TikTok in one year, saying that such a deal “would be one of the most complicated and expensive transactions in history.”

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