TikTok timer has been started - nine months to sell or shut down - The UpStream

Hero Image

TikTok timer has been started - nine months to sell or shut down

posted Sunday Apr 28, 2024 by Scott Ertz

In the past two weeks, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate passed a bill with a timer for TikTok, and President Biden signed it into law. This law sets a timer of 9 months for ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to sell the social network to a Western company or face an outright ban in the US. If it feels like you're living in a time warp, it's because you sort of are. We've been here before, but this time it looks as if the result will be different.

The first time TikTok faced a ban

In 2020, during his tenure as President, Donald Trump issued an executive order aiming to ban TikTok in the United States. The order cited concerns that the popular video-sharing app, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, posed a threat to national security. Trump's administration argued that TikTok could be used by the Chinese government for surveillance purposes, potentially compromising the privacy of millions of Americans. As part of the ban proposal, a plan was floated that would have involved Oracle and Walmart taking ownership of a US entity of TikTok, with responsibilities for handling user data and content moderation. The Trump administration faced a lot of scrutiny over the decision to pursue a ban. He was called racist and xenophobic, claiming that the ban was about a hatred of China, not about public safety. However, public and legal challenges and the imminent end of Trump's presidency prevented the ban from being fully implemented.

After taking office, President Joe Biden revoked Trump's executive order banning TikTok and WeChat. Instead of an outright ban, Biden's approach shifted toward evaluating threats posed by China-based apps and software through rigorous analysis. The US Department of Commerce would review apps developed by entities in foreign adversary jurisdictions, such as China, to assess any risks to national security. Biden acknowledged that apps could collect substantial amounts of user information, potentially granting foreign adversaries access to sensitive data. The decision to overturn the ban was welcomed by civil liberties advocates, who emphasized the importance of protecting First Amendment rights while addressing security concerns.

The delayed ban on TikTok and WeChat did not proceed, but the broader discussion around technology, trade, and China's rise as a tech superpower continues. While the ban itself may have been set aside, the scrutiny of Chinese apps remained, and the delicate balance between privacy, security, and international relations continues to evolve.

TikTok ban - Round Two

While the first round was attempted through an Executive Order under President Trump, the second round is being approached through Congress. This is an important change, because there is no single target of scrutiny. Instead, all of Congress and the President have responsibility over this decision. As such, there is no easy way to pressure anyone into undoing the decision. So, expect that this one is going to push through one way or another.

The challenge this time is going to come from ByteDance itself. The company has reportedly said that it would rather shut down TikTok in the US than to sell the brand. If that is the case, they will have two choices: fight the ban in court or leave the US market. It would appear that the company intends to fight the ban, as they have reportedly taken a higher hold over TikTok's US operations.

It is expected that ByteDance will take this fight up to the Supreme Court if necessary. Their argument appears to be one of First Amendment violations, which will be quite a challenge. If TikTok were the only one of its kind, providing a way for people to communicate that was unique and unable to be replicated, it's possible that a First Amendment challenge could work. However, TikTok is not even unique in today's marketplace, with Facebook Reels, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts already being market challengers, and smaller services like Likee, already offering alternatives.

The end result

In nine months, expect that TikTok will shut down access in the US. Challenges will be filed by ByteDance to stop the ban, but they will either be too little too late, or will fail to sway a court. As a result, new challengers will emerge to fill the void, but Reels and Shorts will take the lion's share of the market.


Login to CommentWhat You're Saying

Be the first to comment!

We're live now - Join us!



Forgot password? Recover here.
Not a member? Register now.
Blog Meets Brand Stats