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Editor’s Note: The advancement of legislation to ban TikTok in the U.S. underscores a critical development for cybersecurity, information governance, and eDiscovery professionals. The potential decoupling of TikTok from its Chinese parent company raises substantial questions about data privacy, foreign influence, and the legal landscapes of technology operations within national borders. This article explores the implications of such legislative actions, providing essential insights for professionals navigating the intersection of technology, policy, and legal frameworks.

Industry News – Data Privacy and Protection Beat

National Security or Free Speech? U.S. House Passes TikTok Ban Bill

ComplexDiscovery Staff

In a significant legislative step, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Saturday that could lead to a ban on TikTok. The legislation mandates that ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, must divest its American operations or face a statutory ban. This development is part of a broader legislative package that also includes aid for Ukraine and Israel.

The bill is designed to sever TikTok from its Chinese origins within 270 days, a deadline extendable by an additional 90 days at President Joe Biden’s discretion if there’s evident progress towards a sale. The legislation has garnered bipartisan support in the Senate, and President Biden has indicated his readiness to sign the bill into law if it passes the Senate.

ByteDance’s potential responses to this legislation include a strong pushback through legal channels. Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, has stated, “At the stage that the bill is signed, we will move to the courts for a legal challenge,” highlighting the company’s intent to vigorously contest a ban. In addition to legal avenues, TikTok has invested heavily in influencing public and political opinion, launching substantial advertising campaigns and lobbying efforts against the measure.

The implications of this legislation extend far beyond a simple corporate divestiture. Analysts are concerned about potential impacts on free speech, citing that the ban could infringe on the First Amendment rights of the 170 million Americans who use TikTok regularly. Furthermore, removing TikTok from major platforms like Google and Apple could disrupt a significant segment of the American tech landscape.

The proposed TikTok ban illustrates the complex intersection of business, politics, and digital rights, emphasizing the broader implications of foreign ownership of significant technology platforms. As the Senate prepares to review the bill, the outcome will likely set a precedent for how the U.S. and possibly other governments manage national security concerns related to technology and foreign influence.

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Alan N. Sutin

Alan N. Sutin is Chair of the firm’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Practice and Senior Chair of the Global Intellectual Property & Technology Practice. An experienced business lawyer with a principal focus on commercial transactions with intellectual property and technology issues and privacy

Alan N. Sutin is Chair of the firm’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Practice and Senior Chair of the Global Intellectual Property & Technology Practice. An experienced business lawyer with a principal focus on commercial transactions with intellectual property and technology issues and privacy and cybersecurity matters, he advises clients in connection with transactions involving the development, acquisition, disposition and commercial exploitation of intellectual property with an emphasis on technology-related products and services, and counsels companies on a wide range of issues relating to privacy and cybersecurity. Alan holds the CIPP/US certification from the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

Alan also represents a wide variety of companies in connection with IT and business process outsourcing arrangements, strategic alliance agreements, commercial joint ventures and licensing matters. He has particular experience in Internet and electronic commerce issues and has been involved in many of the major policy issues surrounding the commercial development of the Internet. Alan has advised foreign governments and multinational corporations in connection with these issues and is a frequent speaker at major industry conferences and events around the world.