President Biden Signs Bill to Potentially Ban TikTok

WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden today signed a bill to ban TikTok unless the app’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, divests entirely from its domestic operations.

Biden’s signature comes after the Senate adopted the bill on Tuesday night. This is noteworthy for adult entertainment industry stakeholders because TikTok has proven to be a viable, safe-for-work marketing avenue to bring traffic to premium social media platforms and NSFW paysites.

“This unconstitutional law is a TikTok ban, and we will challenge it in court,” reads a statement posted on X by TikTok’s policy and government relations team. “We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail. The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep U.S. data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation.”

Civil society groups have opposed the ban on TikTok.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) national affiliate condemned the Senate and Biden’s adoption of the bill that would require the sale of TikTok within nine months.

“Banning a social media platform that hundreds of millions of Americans use to express themselves would have devastating consequences for all of our First Amendment rights and will almost certainly be struck down in court,” says Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at the ACLU.

According to TikTok, over 170 million U.S.-based users regularly use the application. It is one of the top social media apps in both the Apple App and Google Play stores.

Press freedom advocates are concerned that the ban could lead to more censorship and restrict users’ access to not just news and commentary but also information that could improve people’s lives.

“A sell-or-be-banned law targeting one platform runs afoul of the First Amendment and unilaterally closes off essential spaces for people to connect and communicate,” says Jenna Ruddock, policy counsel at Free Press Action.

The newly signed law requires several reforms to TikTok’s business structure, or the app could be prohibited from being used in the United States.

Due to concerns about data privacy risks and app surveillance instigated by the Communist Party of China, the law requires TikTok to completely transfer its data-side business to U.S.-based server farms and sell those assets to an American technology company. Potential buyers who’ve expressed interest include Oracle.

“At any given time, dozens of corporations are tracking us, analyzing our behavior, and profiting off of our private information,” Ruddock added, highlighting the years-long push for Congress to adopt strong data protection laws. “Instead of banning TikTok, lawmakers should focus their energies on passing a federal privacy law that limits how all of these companies collect, store, analyze and sell our personal data.”

AVN reported on efforts to ban TikTok as the bill advanced through the House of Representatives in March 2024.