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With TikTok facing a ban in the US, what does that mean for the UK?

THE potential for TikTok to face a ban in the United States has raised questions about its future in the UK, given its huge popularity with 170 million American users. On Tuesday, April 23, the US Senate moved forward with legislation that could lead to a TikTok ban, the world’s most downloaded app.

The bill requires TikTok’s China-based owner, ByteDance, to sell the platform to a US company within nine months or risk being blocked from the US market. This development has sparked discussions among UK lawmakers who are considering a similar move.

Recently, the US Congress passed a bill that may result in TikTok’s prohibition unless ByteDance, its Chinese parent company, sells off the platform. The bill received support from 325 members of Congress and gives ByteDance a nine-month window to find a buyer for TikTok. This period could be extended by three months if necessary. The legislative measure was passed alongside a broader package providing military aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Representative Mike Gallagher described the bill as necessary to remove what he referred to as ByteDance’s ‘tumour’. However, ByteDance faces significant challenges in finding a buyer willing to invest billions in the platform, compounded by the need for Chinese approval of any sale.

Despite President Joe Biden’s recent embrace of TikTok, he has expressed support for the ban due to concerns over data security and potential Chinese influence. TikTok, on the other hand, contends that it does not share US user data with the Chinese government and has vowed to challenge any ban in court.

While TikTok remains available for personal use in the UK, it is currently prohibited on government devices due to cybersecurity concerns. Although some UK MPs are calling for a ban similar to that in the US, the government maintains that TikTok use remains a matter of personal choice for citizens. Nonetheless, concerns about TikTok’s role in spreading misinformation have prompted ongoing discussions among British lawmakers regarding its future in the country.