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President Biden Signs U.S. TikTok Ban, Starting Clock on Chinese Social Media Video Platform Owner’s Mandatory Divestiture

President Biden Signs U.S. TikTok Ban, Starting Clock on Chinese Social Media Video Platform Owner’s Mandatory Divestiture

President Joe Biden has signed into law a proposed ban of TikTok in the United States, unless the social media video app’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, sells the former karaoke app it acquired in 2017. ByteDance, which is appealing the move, has up to 12 months to offload TikTok, or face a permanent operating ban in the United States.

The ban was part of a $95 billion aid package for the Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan approved by Congress and signed into law by Biden on April 23.

Since China’s acquisition of TikTok, there has been growing concern among U.S. lawmakers regarding the national security threat posed by a foreign authoritarian government’s possible influence on a social video platform used by 170 million American daily.

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), in a joint floor statement, contend foreign adversaries are increasingly using social media platforms to influence political activities in the U.S. and other governments.

India in 2020 banned TikTok and other Chinese-controlled apps in the country it considered national security threats. China, in turn, forbids the operation of Google-owned YouTube or Facebook in the country.

“Even as U.S. social media platforms have fumbled in their response to foreign influence operations, there was never any concern that these platforms were operating at the direction of a foreign adversary,” Warner said. “Again, I cannot say the same for TikTok.”

Cantwell said the proposed TikTok ban includes provisions of the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Application Act,” a non-punitive policy proposal.

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“Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok, or any other individual company,” she said. “Congress is acting to prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations, harming vulnerable Americans, our servicemen and women, and our U.S. government personnel.”

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