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TikTok’s potential ban passes in the Senate. Here’s what comes next.

App gets one year to ditch Chinese ownership before any ban would take effect

The U.S. Senate passed legislation Tuesday night that could lead to a nationwide ban on TikTok, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature as part of a broader measure to provide support to Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies.

The bill passed the Senate on an overwhelming and bipartisan 79-18 vote, after the House of Representatives passed the measure last weekend. It would ban TikTok in the U.S. if the video-sharing app continues to be controlled by its Chinese parent company, ByteDance Ltd.

The bill had originally included a provision requiring ByteDance to divest itself of TikTok within six months, but House Speaker Mike Johnson and other top House Republicans tweaked the legislation to stretch that deadline to a year. Biden has promised to sign the measure into law.

A legal battle is now expected, with TikTok planning to file a court challenge. Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, said Biden’s signature on the law would kick off “the beginning, not the end of this long process.” Beckerman’s comments in an internal memo were reported by various media outlets.

Supporters of the measure have argued that the popular app is a threat to national security and have raised data-privacy concerns around it.

A TikTok spokesperson has said the U.S. government is “attempting to trample the free-speech rights of 170 million Americans and devastate 7 million small businesses nationwide.”

Analyst Ed Mills of Raymond James noted that the judicial review of any lawsuit brought by TikTok is limited to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which could speed up any litigation ”and increase the probability the bill is upheld.”

“Our base-case is that China will not allow divestment and TikTok will no longer operate in the U.S. in 2025,” he wrote in a note Sunday.

The congressional action on TikTok is positive for companies with rival social-media platforms, like Meta Platforms Inc.  META, +2.98%,  Snap Inc. SNAP, +2.24% and Alphabet Inc.’s  GOOG, +1.25%   GOOGL, +1.27% Google business, according to TD Cowen analysts.

Some Western investors have expressed interest in buying TikTok’s U.S. operations, among them Steven Mnuchin, who served as Treasury secretary in the Trump administration, and “Shark Tank” reality-TV star Kevin O’Leary.


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