It’s a fact: TikTok is in serious danger in the United States. The social network founded by Zhang Yiming has been accused on numerous occasions of sending U.S. user data to the Chinese government. Previous cases, such as the spying on several American journalists by employees of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, put the short video app, whose CEO will have to appear before the U.S. Congress in March, in serious trouble.
As of today, there are several voices in U.S. politics calling for a ban or forced sale, including Democratic Party Senator Michael Bennet, who in early February called on Apple and Google to ban TikTok from their app stores. But how could such a ban be implemented? Forbes has investigated this issue, and shows us two possible ways for such an end to become a reality.
Declaration of national emergency
US President Joe Biden could make use of the IEEPA (International Emergency Economic Powers Act) to ban the app in the United States. This law, which Donald Trump already used in 2020, allows to regulate/ban any business transaction with foreign entities deemed potentially dangerous.
Although TikTok is not an app that is commonly used for commercial purposes (one of the main reasons Trump was ultimately unable to ban the app), a bill not yet passed by the U.S. Congress and known as the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act could make the IEEPA applicable to TikTok’s case.
Threat to national security
The Exon-Florio Amendment is a U.S. law that created the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and empowers the President of the United States to block, divest or impose restrictions on foreign investments when he believes there is credible evidence that the investment threatens national security.
That the committee demanded the forced sale of TikTok or even its banning would be a very strange event, although not out of the question. The potential dangers of its algorithm or even the acquisition of the Musical.ly (future TikTok) app by ByteDance, which allowed users to lip sync to songs, could be enough of an “excuse” for Biden and CFIUS to begin the process to sell the app to a U.S. company.