TikTok Readies for Legal Battle After Biden Signs Latent Ban

TikTok logo | Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

President Joe Biden signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will ban the social media application TikTok unless ByteDance, its Chinese-based parent company, sells its shares of the company.

ByteDance will now have nine months to divest from the company or face a nationwide ban on the app. The legislation provides the president with a one-time extension of 90 days if there has been “significant progress” on the sale, according to NBC News.

This timeline means that the company could receive up to one year to fully sell its shares of TikTok, allowing the app’s 170 million users to continue accessing it during the critical months leading to the 2024 presidential election. 

The legislation requiring ByteDance to divest from TikTok was tied to the $95 billion foreign aid package that the Senate passed Tuesday, which provides funding to both Ukraine and Israel, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Some who favored the ban on TikTok have cited concerns about security due to ByteDance being a Chinese-based company, with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) claiming, “Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok, or any other individual company.”

“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,” she said, as reported by NPR.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has pushed back on the security concerns raised by those in support of the bill, claiming that ByteDance has never been asked to hand data over to the Chinese government. Chew said Wednesday that the company is prepared to fight the proposed ban, and he is confident that the results will favor the social media company.

“The facts and the Constitution are on our side, and we expect to prevail again,” he explained, per Variety. “While we make our case in court, you’ll still be able to enjoy TikTok like you always have.”

It remains to be seen whether the potential legal action could allow ByteDance to remain TikTok’s parent company and still operate in the U.S., but a previous attempt to ban the app was shot down in court. 

Former President Donald Trump attempted to ban the application through an executive order in 2020, but a federal judge ruled that he overstepped his authority through the action and allowed TikTok to remain, per NPR.

The proposed ban on the application is similar to legislation passed in India in 2020 that banned TikTok and multiple other Chinese apps due to concerns about ties to the Chinese government, as previously reported by The Dallas Express, though the Eastern nation implemented its ban much more quickly.

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