Days after the House of Representative passed a bill to force parent ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok, the Senate has passed the bill and sent it to Biden’s desk.

The US Senate has passed a bill that will ban TikTok in the country unless it cuts ties with its Chinese parent company ByteDance.

Part of a wider national security package, the TikTok divestment legislation was first passed by the House of Representatives over the weekend. It was then sent to the Senate, which approved the bill yesterday (23 April) and it is expected to be signed into law by US president Joe Biden today.

ByteDance now has nine months to sell its stake in TikTok in the US market or face a ban in the country. The company will have an additional three months to complete the sale if one has been agreed.

A previous bill overwhelmingly passed by the House last month gave the Beijing-headquartered company only six months to divest amid concerns that the Chinese government may have access to user data of more than 170m US citizens who use the app. It never ended up getting Senate approval.

The latest bill passed by a 79-18 majority in the Senate is part of a package that includes $95bn in military and humanitarian foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, Taiwan, Sudan, Haiti and other places affected by conflict or natural calamities.

While the previous TikTok-specific bill was stalled in the Senate, the new one passed through the second chamber within days because of the high-priority and time-sensitive nature of the foreign aid. Biden has committed to signing the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

“Tonight, a bipartisan majority in the Senate joined the House to answer history’s call at this critical inflection point,” Biden said, referring to the foreign aid aspect of the bill.

“I will sign this bill into law and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week.”

TikTok has reiterated its stance that a ban in the US would be detrimental to free speech and small businesses.

A spokesperson for the company said in response to the latest bill that the platform contributes $24bn to the US economy annually. While a significant sum, this is unlikely to deter lawmakers as the foreign aid package passed over the weekend amounts to $61bn.

Those in favour of the divestment have argued that Chinese law could compel companies such as TikTok to hand over data to the country’s government and pose a national security risk in the US. The threat of a ban has been on the table for some time, as TikTok confirmed last year that it was issued an ultimatum by US officials to adjust its ownership.

Multiple governments around the world have shared concerns about TikTok’s connection with China’s government, with many nations banning government staff from accessing the app as a result.

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