TikTok Ban Bill Passes Senate, Awaits President Biden's Siganture

The legislation was passed with a 79-18 vote.

The legal battle surrounding TikTok has apparently reached a new peak. On Tuesday night, reports indicated that the United States Senate has passed legislation that would force the social media app to be banned, unless it is sold by its current parent company. The deal was included in a larger package believed to total $95 billion, and was ultimately passed with a vote of 79-18. The legislation was already passed in the House of Representatives earlier this week, meaning that the next step is to bring it in front of President Joe Biden. If the legislation is signed by Biden, it would give TikTok's parent company, the China-based ByteDance, nine months to sell the platform to a new owner. A possible three-month extension would be available if a sale is in progress. This is a major change from the initial legislature, which only gave ByteDance six months to potentially sell the company, before drawing complaints that the window would be too small.

"Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok or any other individual company," Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell 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."

What Is the TikTok Ban About? 

The Senate's fight against TikTok has largely concerned worries about user data, as well as the algorithm that recommends videos to users. This has included allegations that ByteDance could be motivated by the Chinese government to either utilize the algorithm to influence U.S. users, or give up the data it has on them. The battle has not been met with a warm response by many of the platform's users, as well as its various content creators who have begun to generate revenue from views and advertisements. 

"A U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide," TikTok said in a statement last year. "We're disappointed to see this rushed piece of legislation move forward, despite its considerable negative impact on the free speech rights of millions of Americans who use and love Tiktok."

What States Have Banned TikTok?

The topic of a TikTok ban has been floating around since 2020, with members of the Senate beginning to introduce the nationwide legislation in January of 2023. A bill was already passed in Montana in April of 2023 that prohibits TikTok from being sold in app stores, but does still allow existing users to continue to operate on the platform.

"The bill's champions have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalizing this attempt to censor American voices and that the bill's constitutionality will be decided by the courts," TikTok said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach."