5 things to know about the potential TikTok ban

5 things to know about the potential TikTok ban

The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation Wednesday that could potentially ban TikTok in the U.S.

If enacted, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act would force ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based parent company, to sell the app or be banned from U.S. app stores and web hosting services.

Here are five things to know about the potential TikTok ban:

TikTok is not yet banned

While the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act easily passed the House in a 352-65 vote, there are several more steps that would need to occur for the popular app to face a ban.

The bill needs to pass the Senate

The TikTok bill still needs to pass the Senate, where it faces greater resistance despite growing pressure on the chamber to take up the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday the Senate “will review the legislation when it comes over from the House” but did not commit to a course of action.

The top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), touted the “strong bipartisan vote” in the House and said they “look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law.”

However, several of their colleagues from both sides of the aisle have voiced opposition or hesitation.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) described the bill as a “draconian measure that stifles free expression, tramples constitutional rights, and disrupts the economic pursuits of millions of Americans,” while Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) argued that privacy issues exist beyond TikTok.

“We don’t have only a TikTok problem—we have a Big Tech privacy problem,” Markey said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “From Meta to Amazon to Discord, US-owned companies are preying on children & teens for profit. We don’t need to ban TikTok to fix their invasive practices.”

He instead urged the Senate to take up his bipartisan update to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also appeared hesitant Wednesday, noting the potential political drawbacks of passing a bill that could ban TikTok.

“Successful politics is addition and multiplication, and cutting out a large group of young voters is not the best-known strategy for reelection,” Durbin said.

Biden has said he would sign the bill

If the bill passes the Senate, President Biden has said he would sign it into law.

After the successful vote in the House on Wednesday, the White House said it was “glad to see this bill move forward” and urged the Senate to “take swift action.”

“As we have said … this bill is important,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One.

“We welcome ongoing efforts to address the threat posed by certain technology services operating in the United States that put at risk Americans’ personal information and broader national security, including through the manipulation by foreign powers of Americans’ views and beliefs,” she added.

ByteDance would have roughly five months to sell TikTok before a ban takes place

Even if the bill is signed into law, TikTok would not be banned immediately.

The app’s China-based parent company ByteDance would have more than five months — 165 days — to divest from TikTok before facing a ban from U.S. app stores and web hosting services.

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that he is putting together a group to buy TikTok. Mnuchin served under former President Trump, who unsuccessfully attempted to force the sale of the app using an executive order in 2020.

“I think the legislation should pass, and I think it should be sold,” Mnuchin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” adding, “It’s a great business, and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok.”

A ban may face court challenges

The potential TikTok ban may also face court challenges, like those that bogged down Trump’s attempt to force ByteDance to divest from the app.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who was one of the 65 House lawmakers to vote against the legislation Wednesday, suggested that it was likely to be struck down in court over First Amendment concerns.

“There are two key principles why the courts would strike this down if the Senate took this up,” Khanna told MSNBC. “It’s not the least restrictive measure of protecting people’s data and privacy.”

“You could pass an Internet Bill of Rights. You could do things like a financial penalty. A ban is extreme, and you have to have the least restrictive means,” he continued.

“Secondly, you need, under the Supreme Court, an alternative means of communication,” Khanna added. “It is very hard to reach TikTok’s almost billion users, particularly international users, for Americans, and I don’t think the court would think that there are alternative means of communication here.”

Several free speech and civil liberties groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, have similarly expressed concerns that the bill would violate the First Amendment.

Rebecca Klar contributed

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