President Biden Signs Bill Forcing TikTok to Sell or Face Ban

Smartphone displaying the tiktok logo centered on the screen, flanked by the us flag on the left and the chinese flag on the right, against a vibrant, blurred background.

Wednesday morning, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill forcing TikTok to divest from its parent company or face a ban.

Biden’s move follows the U.S. Senate’s passage of the bill only the day before.

“Congress has passed my legislation to strengthen our national security and send a message to the world about the power of American leadership: we stand resolutely for democracy and freedom, and against tyranny and oppression,” Biden said, as reported by Wired.

Now, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has the same option it did years ago when then-President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app: sell or leave the U.S.

Under the updated terms, the Associated Press notes, ByteDance would have up to 12 months to divest TikTok before the app faces a ban in the U.S. across app stores and web hosting services, stemming from a nine-month deadline with a possible three-month extension “if a sale is in progress.” That’s double the original six-month grace period allotted.

“This unconstitutional law is a TikTok ban, and we will challenge it in court,” TikTok said in its statement regarding the ban. “We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail. The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep U.S. data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation. This ban would devastate seven million businesses and silence 170 million Americans. As we continue to challenge this unconstitutional ban, we will continue investing and innovating to ensure TikTok remains a space where Americans of all walks of life can safely come to share their experiences, find joy, and be inspired.”

The TikTok ultimatum was included in a significant foreign aid package that also sends resources to Israel, Taiwan, and Ukraine, which likely bolstered its passage. After all, it’s one thing to vote against a bill regarding the sale or banning of an app and another to hold up foreign aid packages.

When ByteDance and TikTok went through a similar threat several years ago, a deal with Oracle came together. However, that never went through after the Biden administration took over, and the need to sell seemed, for a time, a non-issue.

It is unclear if the Chinese company would pursue a sale again if its planned legal defense fails, but it seems that the company would be unlikely to exit the lucrative U.S. market without exercising every possible option.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.