US Congress approves bill to ban TikTok in the United States unless ByteDance sells the platform

US Congress has on Tuesday (April 23) voted to pass the bill that will ban TikTok in the United States unless Chinese parent company ByteDance sells the platform’s US stakes.

The bill – which was voted for 79 to 18 – is next expected to be signed by President Joe Biden, who has previously indicated that he will approve of the legislation once it hits his desk. Tuesday’s vote comes three days after it cleared the House of Representatives.

Should the bill be passed, ByteDance will have an estimated nine months to sell TikTok. In the event that ByteDance does not sell the platform’s stakes in the United States, TikTok will be banned from US markets, and will be removed from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store nationwide.

The bill was first brought up last month, when the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 24 to 16 to give President Joe Biden the power to enforce a ban on the social media app over concerns that the app is a national security threat and a Chinese espionage tool.

The application app of the video portal TikTok can be seen on the display of a smartphone. Photo: Silas Stein/dpa (Photo by Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)
The application app of the video portal TikTok can be seen on the display of a smartphone. Photo: Silas Stein/dpa (Photo by Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)

TikTok has consistently disputed lawmakers’ claims that the company’s ownership structure could allow the Chinese government to gain access to the data of its millions of American users.

To date, over 30 American states, Canada, and the European Union have separately banned the app from use on government-owned devices over concerns it could be a security risk. India banned the app nationwide in January 2021, while Taiwan and Afghanistan did the same in 2022.


According to a report from The Washington Post, ByteDance is expected to challenge the bill in court, as the parent company argues that the legislation violates millions of its US-based users’ right to free speech – it appears at the time of writing, per The Guardian, that the UK is not planning to impose the same restrictions against TikTok on its users.

The Washington Post also notes that TikTok has in the past proposed a plan to safeguard US users’ data, storing data with prominent American tech company Oracle. Negotiations between ByteDance and the US government however, fell apart.

TikTok star Leah Smith posted updates on her cancer treatment to TikTok. CREDIT: Getty/Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images

TikTok has yet to comment on the bill being passed on Tuesday (April 23), but on Saturday said in an internal email per the Financial Times that it intends to fight the legislation, and that “this is the beginning, not the end of this long process”.


The bill was included as part of a US$95 billion foreign aid package, including military assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. In response to the package, TikTok wrote on X last week (April 18): “It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually.”