Senate passes the bill that could ban TikTok


The Senate approved a measure that will require ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban, in a vote of 79 to 18. The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act next goes to President Biden. The president has already said he’ll sign the bill into law. (Yes, as predicted, I’m writing about this again.)

TikTok has faced the ire of US politicians for a few years now, but this bill has picked up support across both political parties. It sailed through the House of Representatives before being approved (bundled with a package for foreign aid) by the Senate on Tuesday.

The bill states that TikTok would have up to 12 months to divest from its parent company ByteDance, or face a ban in US app stores and web hosting services. The company, naturally, has protested this push, calling the bill unconstitutional and vowing to mount a legal challenge if the bill is signed into law. If it does so, it could bounce around courts for years before any eventual ban, if the company declines to sell. A few years is a long time in social media. Ask Snap, or worse, Vine.

And who would buy TikTok? While many major tech companies might love to grab the social network’s engaged young audience, many politicians would balk at making a Big Tech company even bigger. Steve Mnuchin, who was Treasury secretary in the Trump administration, told CNBC he was putting together an investor group. What could go wrong?

— Mat Smith

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