US Senate Overwhelmingly Approves TikTok Ultimatum: Sell Or Be Banned

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The snowball continues to build against TikTok's presence in the U.S. as the Senate was quick to pass the so-called TikTok bill, essentially (once it's signed by President Joe Biden) requiring TikTok's China-based publisher ByteDance to either sell it to a U.S. owner or be banned from the country.

This TikTok bill was rolled into part of a bigger package that includes $90 billion-worth of foreign aid to go towards Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. President Biden is expected to sign the package into law today (Wednesday) "as soon as it reaches my desk," according to a statement made by him on Tuesday. 

Filed under Division H as the "Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act," the law will give the White House the ability to take action of apps that (it thinks) pose a national security threat. Once an app is determined to be a "foreign adversary-controlled application," U.S. presidents will require the app owner to sell it to a U.S. owner within 270 days, although an extra 90 days can be granted as a grace period. If a sale doesn't occur or if the owner refuses, the app will be banned from app stores and blocked by ISPs in the U.S. 

This is not the first time lawmakers have tried to get the same bill passed, but the last version was essentially stalled at the Senate level for more than a month after being passed through the House. In a sneaky (or wise) move, lawmakers filed the bill into the high-profile and important foreign aid package, basically passing the final hurdle to get TikTok sold or banned.

This bill stems from people in our government believing that TikTok has close ties to the Chinese government, that TikTok app has built-in spying capabilities. There's claim that the social media sensation with 150 million U.S. users can spy on users via the mics on the devices and phish the device of other app activity.

Of course, ByteDance has denied these allegations and is readying to appeal the ban in court against the U.S. government. Some are also fearing that since this law technically isn't specific to TikTok, the government could basically target any app it so chooses. Interestingly, former President Donald Trump, in a bid to gain younger voters, has done a 180-degree turn on his previous stance against TikTok and now blames the President for the banning of TikTok.