Congress Pushes ByteDance to Divest TikTok – Spiceworks

TikTok Ban in US


  • U.S. lawmakers are pushing a new bill that could force ByteDance to divest its business interests in TikTok or risk a ban in the country.
  • The bill is part of growing concerns about TikTok sending user data from the U.S. to Chinese government agencies for surveillance objectives.

Nineteen lawmakers in the U.S. are pushing a bipartisan bill that aims to force China-based ByteDance to divest control over the popular social media platform TikTok or face a ban in the country. The bill has reportedly been created over concerns about national security, particularly with mass data transfers to adversarial countries such as China and Russia.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) who are leaders of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. Under the bill, China-based ByteDance’s TikTok has been designated a foreign adversary-controlled application under the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. The bill will also create a framework for the President of the U.S. to designate applications as foreign adversary-controlled.

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The bill gives ByteDance little more than five months after it goes into effect to decide on divesting TikTok. Failure to divest the social media platform would make TikTok illegal to distribute on app stores or web hosting services, even for current users. Furthermore, the White House has also thrown its support behind the bill. President Biden has already signed a bill that banned the use of TikTok on government phones in 2022.

The app is likely to challenge the bill legally, similar to when the Trump administration was sued in 2020 for attempting to ban the app. TikTok has already called the bill an outright ban and a violation of First Amendment rights. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has admitted to storing American user data in China but has denied any data transfer to the Chinese Communist Party. ByteDance is also facing investigations from the Justice Department and the FBI over allegations of illegal surveillance of journalists.

In addition, the Chinese government is also expected to block any potential sale of TikTok by ByteDance. In 2021, the Chinese government purchased a 1% stake in the primary domestic unit of ByteDance, which potentially gives the CCP a say in the working of TikTok’s algorithms. Consequently, the Chinese tech company is likely to face legal repercussions in mainland China for ownership and tech transfers without the approval of the Beijing administration.

Despite the bill being introduced, its success remains uncertain owing to the high popularity of the app among Americans and the myriad loopholes in accessing the app through unauthorized third-party channels despite a ban.

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Image source: Shutterstock


Anuj Mudaliar is a content development professional with a keen interest in emerging technologies, particularly advances in AI. As a tech editor for Spiceworks, Anuj covers many topics, including cloud, cybersecurity, emerging tech innovation, AI, and hardware. When not at work, he spends his time outdoors – trekking, camping, and stargazing. He is also interested in cooking and experiencing cuisine from around the world.



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