The United States could soon say goodbye to TikTok. Today, March 13, the US House of Representatives approved by a large majority the law which paves the way for banning the use of the Chinese platform. The measure received support from both Democrats and Republicans. The law now passes the Senate. A standoff whose final outcome will also be determined by what the company ByteDance, owner of the application, chooses to do: according to the law, it will have six months to decide to sell the platform. Otherwise it will be banned. This will reduce the memory on the phones of about 170 million Americans.

The accusations

Despite the popularity of the platform, which also counts President Joe Biden himself among its users, many lawmakers have expressed doubts about its security. In other words, they fear that Americans' personal data will be transmitted to the Chinese government. Or that the powerful algorithm that manipulates the content of the application is exploited for political propaganda purposes. Assumptions always denied by TikTok, which has always insisted that around 60% of the company belongs to global institutional investors, including financial giants Susquehanna International Group and BlackRock. He also pointed out that, out of a board of directors of five people, three are American.

The data node

From the company's perspective, concerns about data processing would also be unfounded. Indeed, ByteDance is said to have spent more than a billion dollars to store the sensitive information of American users on servers managed by Oracle, the American cloud computing company. Apparently, these efforts were not considered sufficient. So, if the bill passes the Senate and ByteDance refuses to sell, it would be illegal for app stores and web hosting companies to distribute or allow app updates to UNITED STATES. The Justice Department could punish any company that works with TikTok or allows people to download TikTok. What is certain is that, even if we wish, it is not guaranteed that it will be easy to find a buyer.

A bumpy ride

The great success of the platform, explains the New York Times, has in fact translated into an economic value such that it is only accessible to a few market giants, such as Microsoft, Google or Meta. But the Biden administration has repeatedly tried to block these companies from expanding further, risking violating antitrust limits. And if ByteDance also agrees to sell, and what's more, manages to find a buyer, it will have to face an additional obstacle: the obstructionism of Beijing, which has already declared that it would oppose the operation. In 2020, when Washington first tried to force the sale of the app, China imposed export restrictions on some technologies, including one that closely resembled TikTok's content recommendation algorithm .

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