WASHINGTON. — TikTok is getting closer to being kicked out of the US, after the Senate approved a bill that would ban the platform unless its Chinese owner ByteDance sells the company.

However, it could be years before TikTok is pushed out of the US and, depending on political winds and changes, this while process could be reversed. The video sharing app has millions of users around the world, but faces growing questions over the security of users’ data and its links to the government in Beijing.

The House of Representatives and Senate have now both passed legislation which, among other things, forces the platform’s parent company to divest. President Joe Biden has vowed to sign the ban into law. They fear the Chinese government could force ByteDance to hand over data about TikTok’s 170 million US users. 

TikTok insists it would not provide foreign user data to the Chinese government.

TikTok has been highly critical of the legislation, calling it an affront to the US right to free speech. 

Chief executive Shou Zi Chew warned the bill would give “more power to a handful of other social media companies”, and put thousands of American jobs at risk.

Donald Trump, now confirmed as the Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, has criticised the new legislation, arguing that limiting TikTok would unfairly benefit Facebook. Even after President Biden signs the bill, the ban won’t take effect immediately.

In fact, it would likely take several years before Americans are unable to access the app, as ByteDance sues – likely all the way to the Supreme Court – to block the forced sale. —BBC

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