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Senate bill demands TikTok parent company sell or be banned

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill requiring TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app or face a ban due to concerns over privacy and national security.

Logo of TikTok superimposed on the United States Capitol Building under a clear blue sky.
Image: KnowTechie

UPDATE 4/24/2024: President Biden signed a bill today requiring TikTok and its parent company ByteDance to sell US operations to an American company within nine months. The outcome of this decision is uncertain for now, so stay tuned for updates on how it develops. More here: President Biden has signed the TikTok ban. Now what?

The U.S. Senate has passed a gnarly bill requiring TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app or face a ban.

The bill, part of a larger $95 billion aid package primarily for Ukraine and Israel, combines international aid with domestic cybersecurity concerns.

The legislation grants ByteDance a nine-month timeline to complete the sale of TikTok, with an optional three-month extension if necessary.

The bill also restricts ByteDance from controlling the algorithm that powers TikTok, a crucial element behind the app’s personalized video recommendations.

Why It Matters

With TikTok used by 170 million Americans, the legislation reflects growing bipartisan unease over privacy and national security risks, particularly fears that the Chinese government could access user data.

This bill isn’t just about one app but points to larger tensions between tech autonomy and national security.

What it means for TikTok users

If you’re one of the millions who scroll through TikTok daily, what does this mean for your app experience? Initially, not much will change until a sale is completed or if the ban becomes effective.

However, watch for changes in app ownership or operational adjustments that could affect what or how content is delivered.

Legal Challenges and What Comes Next

TikTok isn’t going down without a fight. The company plans to challenge the bill legally, arguing it has always prioritized user privacy and security.

“This is still nothing more than an unconstitutional ban in disguise,” Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at the ACLU, said in a statement Tuesday. “Banning a social media platform that hundreds of millions of Americans use to express themselves would have devastating consequences for all of our First Amendment rights, and will almost certainly be struck down in court.”

Past legal challenges by TikTok against restrictive laws have seen some success, so a protracted legal battle could ensue.

What You Can Do

  1. Stay Informed: Keep up with the news. Changes in TikTok’s ownership or app functionality due to legislative outcomes could affect how you interact with the app.
  2. Check your privacy settings: Regardless of developments, it’s always good practice to review your privacy settings on social media apps just to make sure that your data is as secure as possible.
  3. Start looking for alternatives, just in case: In the event of significant disruptions to TikTok’s service, consider similar platforms like Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts.
  4. Contact Your Local Representatives: If you’re concerned or wish to express your views on this legislation, contacting your local representatives can effectively make them work harder for your hard-earned tax dollars.

As this bill progresses from the Senate to the President and potentially into law, its implications stretch beyond Capitol Hill, affecting content creators like KnowTechie, everyday users, and international tech policy.

UPDATE 4/24/2024: It’s official today — President Biden has enacted the legislation that imposes significant restrictions on TikTok and its parent company ByteDance in the U.S.

The Senate passed a significant bill demanding ByteDance to divest TikTok or face a stringent ban. This legislation is a segment of a larger $95 billion aid package targeted primarily at Ukraine and Israel, where international aid intersects with domestic cybersecurity concerns.

ByteDance is given a nine-month window to complete TikTok’s sale, with a potential three-month extension if necessary. Furthermore, the bill curtails ByteDance’s control over TikTok’s algorithm, a crucial component for the app’s personalized video suggestions.

As expected, TikTok is set to contest the bill fervently, asserting its commitment to user privacy and security. And with any U.S. judicial process, the outcome is far from certain and it could take years to find out the final outcome. But for now, it’s the law.

If Biden passes this bill into law, will you bid the app good riddance, or do you have other plans? Drop us a line in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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