US Senator Hints At TikTok Divestiture Deadline Extension

Beijing-based ByteDance may be given extra time to divest itself of TikTok, after the US House of Representatives vote last month.

Reuters reported that Maria Cantwell, the chair of the US Senate Commerce Committee said on Wednesday that US lawmakers could extend to one year a proposed deadline to force China’s ByteDance to divest the short video app used by 170 million Americans.

TikTok has been at the centre of national security concerns in the US and other countries, that it may share sensitive user data with the Communist authorities in Beijing.

China-based firms are legally obliged under the Chinese ‘2017 Intelligence Security law’ to hand over data to Beijing if requested.

Image credit: Unsplash

TikTok ban

ByteDance has always denied it would share user data, but TikTok is already banned on all federal devices in the United States, and on computer and devices of many US states.

The US House of Representatives on 13 March voted 352-65 in favour of a bill that would force ByteDance to divest the app’s US operations within about six months, or face a ban on US app stores.

But progress of the bill has been slower and more considered in the US Senate and earlier this week US Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said lawmakers returning to Washington after a two-week recess could make progress “on a path forward on TikTok legislation”.

Schumer did not give a specific position on TikTok, but said that “in the weeks and months ahead, we have the opportunity to make progress on bipartisan bills” including the TikTok measure.

Divestiture Extension

Now according to the Reuters report Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell said she likes the idea of extending the deadline to one year.

“My guess is that would be a good component to guarantee success,” she was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters on Wednesday. “We’re talking to our colleagues, people have questions.”

Congressional aides had told Reuters that the idea of a one-year deadline has been discussed.

The longer deadline would put any potential TikTok ban well into 2025 and beyond the November presidential election.

Prior to the House vote, lawmakers were flooded with calls from users who oppose the legislation, after TikTok sought to mobilise its 170 million users in the US against the measure.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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