Is TikTok Getting Banned? White House Says Biden Will Sign Tough TikTok Bill Currently in Congress

TikTok Banned
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TikTok Banned
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Photo Credit: Ian Hutchinson

As the music industry fights TikTok over licensing, the White House says Biden will sign the bill currently in Congress that would effectively ban the app in the United States.

The White House says President Biden will support the bill currently in Congress that would effectively ban TikTok, the short-form video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, in the United States. The bipartisan legislation would require ByteDance to sell TikTok over national security concerns surrounding the way the app stores and uses data, in order to remain operational in the United States.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the press that the bill is “important,” and those at the White House “welcome this step.” Notably, Biden signed a bill banning TikTok on government devices in 2022. But that hasn’t stopped Biden’s reelection campaign from utilizing TikTok — in a move to reach younger voters, “BidenHQ” joined the platform last month.

Jean-Pierre stresses that the White House sees the bill as ensuring that the app’s ownership isn’t “in the hands of those who may do us harm,” rather than an outright ban on TikTok. That said, the bill would give the president the authority to ban the app should ByteDance not agree to the requirement that it divest TikTok in the United States.

ByteDance has not yet responded to media requests for comment. But TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek says just the opposite of the press secretary, calling the bill “an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it.”

“This legislation will trample the First Amendment rights of 170 million Americans and deprive 5 million small businesses of a platform they rely on to grow and create jobs,” asserted Haurek.

The bill would allow ByteDance 165 days to divest TikTok. Failure to do so would see app stores unable to legally offer the app or provide web hosting services to any ByteDance-owned applications.

It’s worth noting that in 2020, then-president Donald Trump attempted to ban TikTok alongside the Chinese-owned app WeChat, but the courts blocked the move. These days, Trump says he would not support a ban on TikTok, citing that its absence would strengthen Facebook and Instagram parent Meta, which revoked his access to those platforms during the events of January 6, 2021. Both accounts were reinstated in February last year.