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US Senate passes bill to force TikTok divestment or ban

Business

The U.S. Senate voted late Tuesday to send legislation to President Joe Biden that would require Chinese owner ByteDance to divest the popular short video app's U.S. assets within about nine months or face aBan.

The measure, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday, has been driven by concerns that China could access Americans' data or surveil them with the app and Biden has said he will sign it into law.

"For years we've allowed the Chinese Communist party to control one of the most popular apps in America that was dangerously shortsighted," said Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. "A new law is going to require its Chinese owner to sell the app. This is a good move for America."

TikTok, which says it has not shared and would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government, has argued the law amounts to a ban that would violate the U.S. free speech rights of its users.

The company did not immediately comment but over the weekend, it told its employees that it would quickly go to court to try to block the legislation.

"We'll continue to fight, as this legislation is a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of the 170 million Americans on TikTok... This is the beginning, not the end of this long process," TikTok told employees on Saturday in an email seen by Reuters.

The Senate voted 79 to 18 in favor of the bill.

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