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A man carries a Free TikTok sign in front of the courthouse where the hush-money trial of Donald Trump got underway April 15, 2024, in New York. The House has passed legislation Saturday, April 20, to ban TikTok in the U.S. if its China-based owner doesn't sell its stake, sending it to the Senate as part of a larger package of bills that would send aid to Ukraine and Israel. House Republicans' decision to add the TikTok bill to the foreign aid package fast-tracked the legislation after it had stalled in the Senate. The aid bill is a priority for President Joe Biden that has broad congressional support. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)
Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Published: 24 April 2024

TikTok, the clock is ticking on the popular social media app’s existence in the United States. President Joe Biden signed a bill on Wednesday approving the ban of TikTok, adding significant pressure on the platform to find a new owner.

The legislation, part of a broader foreign aid package supporting Israel and Ukraine, passed the House with a decisive 352-65 vote last week and received Senate approval on Tuesday. The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act is the most severe threat to TikTok since U.S. officials first raised concerns in 2020.

Under the new law, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, has 270 days to sell TikTok to a non-Chinese entity. Failure to comply would result in TikTok’s removal from U.S. app stores and restrictions on “internet hosting services” supporting the platform, limiting its accessibility to new users and interactions with its content.

Biden set the sale deadline for January 19, 2025, with an option to extend it by another 90 days if progress is made toward a sale. This could grant TikTok up to a year before facing a ban.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew responded defiantly to the legislation, assuring users in a video message, “Rest assured: we aren’t going anywhere.” Chew stated, “We are confident and will keep fighting for your rights in the courts. The facts and the Constitution are on our side, and we expect to prevail.”

TikTok spokespersons criticized the law as “unconstitutional,” warning of its devastating impact on the platform’s 170 million U.S. users and 7 million businesses operating on the app.

The bill’s proponents argue that it addresses genuine national security concerns. It would allow the president, with intelligence agency input, to designate social media applications controlled by foreign adversaries as national security threats. These designated apps would then face bans unless they severed ties with foreign entities.

Despite bipartisan support for the bill, with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) describing Communist China as America’s most significant geopolitical foe using technology to undermine the U.S. economy and security, it faced notable opposition: fifty Democrats and 15 Republicans, including Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) voted against it.

Critics raised concerns over potential infringements on free speech and adverse impacts on small businesses. TikTok’s broad demographic reach was highlighted, with over 834 million global users, including 135 million in the U.S., predominantly under 20.

The legislation’s opponents, including TikTok, argue that it risks curtailing First Amendment rights and harming thousands of minority-owned small businesses reliant on the platform. The company has launched an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat the proposed legislation.

Paul Tran, co-owner of a skincare company that attributes much of its success to TikTok, said, “You will be destroying small businesses like us; this is our livelihood.” He cautioned lawmakers against undermining the American Dream cherished by many.

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