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Biden signs bill that would ban TikTok if ByteDance fails to sell the app | TechCrunch

President Biden has signed a bill that would ban TikTok if its owner, ByteDance, doesn’t sell it within a year. The bill includes aid for Ukraine and Israel. U.S. Senators passed the bill 79-18 on late Tuesday after the House passed it with overwhelming majority over the weekend.

The bill gives ByteDance nine months to divest TikTok, with a 90-day extension, to complete the deal. If ByteDance doesn’t sell TikTok, it would become illegal for app stores to distribute the app.

In an emailed statement to TechCrunch, TikTok said it would challenge the “unconstitutional law” in court.

“We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail,” the statement reads. “The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep U.S. data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation. This ban would devastate 7 million businesses and silence 170 million Americans. As we continue to challenge this unconstitutional ban, we will continue investing and innovating to ensure TikTok remains a space where Americans of all walks of life can safely come to share their experiences, find joy, and be inspired.”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew shared his own video response on Wednesday, calling the news “a disappointing moment” and stating that TikTok “will keep fighting.”

Back in March, the House passed a similar standalone bill to ban TikTok or force its sale with a six-month time limit, but the Senate never took that bill up. This time, the House packaged the TikTok bill with foreign aid to U.S. allies, which essentially forced the Senate to make a decision.

TikTok has spent the last few months arguing that its platform is essential for creators and small businesses in the U.S. A few weeks ago, the company released an economic impact report revealing that TikTok generated $14.7 billion for small to mid-sized companies in the U.S.

This story is developing…

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Senate passes a bill forcing TikTok to face a ban if ByteDance doesn't sell it | TechCrunch

The Senate passed a bill, included with the foreign aid package, that will ban TikTok if its owner, ByteDance, doesn’t sell it within a year. Senators passed the bill 79-18 Tuesday after the House passed it with overwhelming majority over the weekend.

President Joe Biden will have to sign the bill to make it law, and as per a statement released by the White House, he intends to do so on Wednesday.

Notably, in March, the House passed a similar standalone bill to ban TikTok or force its sale with a six-month time limit. However, the Senate never took that bill up. This time, as the bill was tied with critical foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, the Senate had to make a decision.

TikTok didn’t immediately release a statement. However, Michael Beckerman, the company’s head of public policy for the Americas, said that the company plans to challenge the move in courts, according to Bloomberg.

“This is an unprecedented deal worked out between the Republican Speaker and President Biden. The stage that the bill is signed, we will move to the courts for a legal challenge,” he said in a memo to TikTok’s US staff earlier this week.

The bill gives Bytedance nine months to force a sale with a 90-day extension  — so effectively a year to complete the deal.

Last week, when the House passed the bill, TikTok said it was “unfortunate” that the House was using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to jam through a ban bill that restricts the “free speech rights of 170 million Americans.”

While TikTok operates out of Singapore, the U.S. has been concerned about the data of its citizens, given the Chinese ownership of the social media platform. TikTok has continually tried to assure the government that it doesn’t give out U.S. user data to China with different campaigns.

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U.S. House passes revised bill to ban TikTok or force sale | TechCrunch

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon that would require TikTok-owner ByteDance to sell the popular social media app or see it banned in the United States.

Efforts to ban TikTok go back to the Trump Administration, but the issue has been revived in recent months. The House already passed a similar bill in March — a bill that the Senate showed little interest in taking up. This new version expands the window for ByteDance to sell TikTok to nine months (compared to six months in the previous bill), as well as giving the president ability to grant a single, additional 90-day extension.

It sounds like the change has satisfied some Senate skeptics. Senate Commerce chair Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told reporters Thursday that she’d suggested the extension, as it “assures that divestiture will more likely happen.”

The new bill was passed 360-58, with strong support from a majority of both Republicans and Democrats. It’s part of a larger package that includes foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, and was likely included as a way for House Speaker Mike Johnson to attract more conservative support.

The Senate could take up the package this coming week, and President Joe Biden has said he supports the bill and will sign it. If that happens, TikTok is expected to challenge the bill in court.

Biden’s administration has been briefing lawmakers on what it says are the national security threats posed by the app — both as a source of data on American users for the Chinese government, and as a channel for that same government to push propaganda to Americans. On the other side of the aisle, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) described the app today as “a spy balloon in Americans’ phones” used to “surveil and exploit America’s personal information.”

When it became clear a TikTok bill was back on the table earlier this week, the company posted a statement arguing that the House is “using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform.”

Civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union and have also opposed previous attempts to ban the app.

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Y Combinator's Garry Tan chastises a San Francisco lawmaker again — this time about an email bill | TechCrunch

Y Combinator President Garry Tan took to the social platform X on Tuesday to again express his displeasure at elected officials representing San Francisco, where the storied accelerator is based.

This time he was lambasting California State Assembly member Matt Haney, who represents San Francisco, over a proposed late-night email bill he authored.

The tweet read, “Legalize hard work. Haney is spreading nonsense again, from the guy who killed algebra and spun up the fentanyl crisis in the Tenderloin.” He then posted a thread saying, “Is this a foreign op or what?”

Haney is what you might call Tan’s “favorite punching bag.” Back in 2016, Haney led the San Francisco Public Schools board when the district was discussing moving algebra out of middle school. The course was later reinstated in 2024. To say Tan was not a fan of that earlier move is evident in several tweets, including in April 2023, October 2022 and June 2021.

Meanwhile, in 2022, Haney was appointed to lead California’s opioid committee, to which Tan tweeted, “Politics as usual is putting the incompetent supe who presided over 1000s of fentanyl deaths in his SF district in charge of the CA opioid commission. Matt Haney has done nothing to support recovery and treatment…”

Haney defended his work combating the opioid crisis in a February LinkedIn post. In it, he referenced AB 1976, a bill that he described “would build on existing requirements for California employers to have ‘adequate first-aid materials’ for workers.” His goal is to make kits that include the life-saving medication naloxone available “as a fire extinguisher.”

What’s caught Tan’s ire this time is Haney’s proposed bill, AB 2751, that would enable employees “the right to disconnect” after agreed-upon working hours. Meaning they’d have the legal right to ignore calls, emails, texts or messages sent after that time, except in cases of emergency, and employers in violation could be subject to fines, the San Francisco Standard reported.

Haney told the publication, “If you’re working a 9-to-5 job, you shouldn’t be expected to be working 24/7. That should be available to everyone, regardless of the existence of smartphones.”

It’s worth pointing out that the bill isn’t as much to forbid people from working long hours if they choose to, as Tan implies, as to forbid companies from imposing an always-available expectation on workers. However, this idea does run contrary to the startup hustle culture, part of YC’s world, which reveres dedication to work, particularly in the early years.

Tan’s latest tweet finding fault with a California lawmaker is not unique. He went on a rant in January on X about seven San Francisco supervisors that took a violent tone. He later apologized, explained that the tweet was meant to be an obvious reference to a popular rap song and later deleted it.

It didn’t end there, though. In February, three San Francisco supervisors received threatening letters to their homes that included a photo of Tan and the phrase, “I wish a slow, painful death for you and your loved ones.”

TechCrunch spoke with San Francisco board supervisor Aaron Peskin about the letter at that time, and Peskin said he didn’t think Tan was directly responsible for someone sending the letter. However, with its threatening tone aimed at a person, not just discourse on a policy, Tan’s tweet nonetheless did “harm to democratic discourse,” Peskin said.

Attempts to reach both Tan and Haney for comment were not answered at the time of publication. Y Combinator declined to comment.

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