TikTok Be Banned In 9 Months? Here’s What Could Happen To Prevent That By Sara Dorn Forbes US Staff


Could TikTok Be Banned In 9 Months? Here’s What Could Happen To Prevent That
Sara Dorn
Forbes US Staff

Apr 22, 2024, 6:38 AM

Trump opposed the previous version of the TikTok bill passed last month. Image by DenPhotos / Shutterstock.
Legislation that could ban TikTok in the U.S. is expected to soon become law after the House approved the bill Saturday as part of a hotly debated foreign aid package—but there are several ways a ban could never actually happen.

Key facts
The legislation, approved by the House in a 360-58 vote, would force China-based TikTok owner, ByteDance, to sell the app to a buyer that is not controlled by a foreign adversary, such as Russia, China or Iran, within 270 days (with an option for President Joe Biden to extend the timeline by 90 days if he sees progress toward a sale) or face a ban.
It’s unlikely TikTok, or the Chinese government will agree to the terms—the company has criticized the proposal as a free speech violation and a blow to the economy and has spent $5 million on ads against the legislation since mid-March, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact, while the Chinese government has also expressed resistance to a forced sale and would need to approve the transaction.
The company has indicated it could challenge the legislation in court, with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew telling users in a video last month the company will “continue to do all we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this amazing platform that we have built with you.”
Courts have ruled in TikTok’s favor previously, including in 2020 when a federal judge rejected former President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban the app, ruling the Trump administration failed “to adequately consider an obvious and reasonable alternative before banning TikTok,” marking the second time a federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to significantly curtail TikTok usage in the U.S.
Another federal judge sided with TikTok creators and the company in November after they sued the state of Montana over its law that would ban any use of the app in the state, ruling that it “oversteps state power and infringes on the Constitutional right of users and businesses.”
Some measures to restrict TikTok on more narrow grounds have been successful in the face of court challenges, including Texas’ law prohibiting state employees, including public university employees, from using the app on their state-issued devices, with a federal judge in December rejecting an attempt to reverse the restrictions.
What to watch for
The legislation has bipartisan support in the Senate, which is expected to take up the measure next week. Biden has said he would sign it into law if it passes the upper chamber.

Chief critic
“China and other foreign adversaries could still purchase Americans’ sensitive data from data brokers on the open market,” Nadine Farid Johnson, policy director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement about the House legislation. “And they could still engage in disinformation campaigns using American-owned platforms.”

Surprising fact
Trump opposed the previous version of the TikTok bill passed last month, writing on Truth Social it would benefit rival Facebook, claiming that company contributed to his 2020 loss by unfairly moderating political content in the lead up to the election.

Key background
House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., put forward the legislation in the House as part of the legislative package that would deliver $95 billion in aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan in a bid to entice right-wing detractors opposed to the additional aid. The House in March approved similar legislation that would have required ByteDance to sell TikTok under a tighter timeline, 180 days, but it stalled in the Senate. The bill appears poised for passage in the upper chamber as soon as next week as some initial skeptics of the TikTok measure, including Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., have said they support the latest version with its extended timeline. Lawmakers for years have expressed concerns about ByteDance’s links to the Chinese government and the company’s admission that it used the app to spy on U.S. citizens, including Forbes reporters.

USTikTokChinaConsumer TechnologyJoe Biden
Sara Dorn
Forbes US Staff
Prior to joining Forbes, I worked as a breaking news reporter at City & State New York, where I covered New York City Hall and Albany politics. Previously, I was a reporter at The New York Post and The Cleveland Plain Dealer. A Cincinnati native, I received my journalism degree from the University of Dayton. I am based in New York City. Reach me at sdorn@forbes.com.

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