US Department of Justice Officials Meeting with Senators Ahead of TikTok Vote — This Might Be Moving Faster Than We Think

Department of Justice Senators TikTok
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Department of Justice Senators TikTok
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Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

The Department of Justice is reportedly holding meetings with US Senators to persuade a forced sale of TikTok ahead of the landmark vote.

A new report from Bloomberg revealed that officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ) will hold closed-door briefings in the Senate this week ahead of the landmark vote to force a sale of TikTok from its Chinese owners to allow the platform to continue operating in the US.

Though the Senate’s vote is less certain, the move follows Congress voting overwhelmingly in favor of legislature that would either ban TikTok in the United States or force a sale from its China-based parent company, ByteDance.

Those in favor of divesting TikTok from ByteDance, led by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, are emphasizing the prospect of a forced sale rather than an outright ban in the US. The closed-door briefings are, according to Bloomberg, specifically for Senators who have not yet been persuaded of the DOJ’s belief in a need for action to be taken against the platform.

“Monaco and other national security officials have been working behind the scenes with key lawmakers to pass legislation that would result in TikTok being divested and perhaps bought by US investors or an American entity,” said Bloomberg, citing persons familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

Among the concerns raised about the overwhelming House vote is the stipulation that TikTok can only avoid a US ban if the company is sold within six months, which some Senators feel is unrealistic; it could very likely take longer to find a buyer and finalize a sale.

Interestingly, of the arguments in favor of a ban, the seemingly least persuasive seems to be the one attracting the most attention from officials. The personal data collected by the app has been notably limited compared to other companies, something which ByteDance has also argued.

“Unlike some of its competitors, TikTok does not require users to disclose their real names, does not ask users about their employment or relationship status, and does not request that US users disclose their precise geolocation information,” the company posited.

Nevertheless, TikTok’s irrefutable ties to a company under the jurisdiction of the Chinese Communist Party leaves most lobbyists pushing for divestment.