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This is the beginning of the end of TikTok

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This is the beginning of the end of TikTok

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a massive foreign aid package that included an ultimatum for TikTok: divest or be banned from operating within the United States. The package passed the House on Saturday and President Joe Biden said he intends to sign it on Wednesday.

“Even as our social media platforms have failed to respond to foreign influence operations, there has never been any concern that these platforms were operating at the direction of foreign adversaries,” said Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, before the vote. on Tuesday. “I can’t say the same for TikTok.”

For more than four years, Congress has threatened to ban TikTok, citing potential national security risks. Last month, the House passed a separate divestment bill, but the measure stalled in the Senate after lawmakers like Sen. Maria Cantwell argued that giving TikTok six months to find a new owner was too little time. The new bill extends the deadline by up to six more months, giving TikTok a year to sell.

“It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign aid and humanitarian assistance to once again stymie a ban bill that would trample on the free speech rights of 170 million Americans,” TikTok said in a statement. shortly after Saturday’s vote. . The company did not immediately respond to the Senate vote on Tuesday.

The effort to ban TikTok has become politically complicated, especially as more politicians join the platform to campaign in the 2024 election. For years, the Biden administration and campaign avoided creating their own accounts on the app and They chose to build a network of influencers to fill the void. But in February, Biden’s re-election campaign joined TikTok. In March, Biden told reporters who would sign the bill.

In response to this renewed divestment effort, former President Donald Trump blamed Biden for the attacks on the app. “Just so everyone knows, especially the young, corrupt Joe Biden is responsible for banning TikTok,” Trump wrote in Truth Social on Monday. “He’s the one pushing to shut it down, and he’s doing it to help his Facebook friends become richer and more dominant, and able to continue fighting, perhaps illegally, against the Republican Party.”

The Trump administration was the first to attack TikTok. In 2020, Trump signed a series of executive orders banning apps like TikTok, Alipay, and WeChat. Court challenges prevented these orders from taking effect. Last year, Montana lawmakers voted to ban the app, but a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect, saying it “likely violates the First Amendment.” After the bill passed the House on Saturday, the company’s public policy chief, Michael Beckerman, he told staff in an email that if the bill were to become law, “we will go to court for a legal challenge.”

Many lawmakers have cited concerns about national security and data privacy as their primary motivation for supporting the bill.

“Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok or any other individual company,” Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell said in a speech Tuesday. “Congress is acting to prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations, and harming vulnerable Americans.” , our military men and women, and our U.S. government personnel.”

Critics of the ban have long argued that passing a sweeping data privacy bill could satisfy most of the complaints lawmakers have about TikTok’s security, as well as those raised by U.S.-based companies.

“Congress could pass comprehensive consumer privacy legislation, which I believe would take more significant steps to address many of the data privacy concerns that have been raised about TikTok,” says Kate Ruane, director of the Center for Freedom of Expression Center for Democracy and Technology. Project. “And I don’t think there is public evidence currently available to show that there is extreme, serious and immediate harm.”

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