A TikTok Ban Is Making Its Way Through Congress, but When Would It Start?

You'll have 165 days after the bill becomes law before you have to worry about the app disappearing.

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Mar. 14 2024, Published 10:47 a.m. ET

The TikTok logo in neon lights.
Source: Getty Images

Millions of Americans use TikTok every day and rely on the app for everything for news to gossip on the latest drama in whatever space they operate in. Even as it becomes a more and more regular part of people's lives, though, the app is also facing a ban from the halls of power in Washington, D.C.

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A bill that is being widely described as a "TikTok ban" has passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin, and is now making its way to the Senate. Now that the bill has gotten closer to becoming law, many are wondering when it would actually go into effect. Here's what we know.

A hand holding a phone with the TikTok logo in silhouette.
Source: Getty Images
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When will the TikTok ban go into effect?

The fate of the bill is not yet a sure thing. Although it passed the House by a vote of 352 to 65, and President Biden has said that he would sign the bill if it came to his desk, its fate in the Senate is much less certain. There is some belief that the bill will die in the Senate and will never become law as a result. Even if it doesn't become law, the exact timing of when that happens is uncertain based on when the Senate takes the bill up and when Biden signs it.

If the bill does become law, though, you don't have to worry about TikTok disappearing from your phone immediately.

The issue the bill is designed to address is Chinese ownership of TikTok's parent company. The concern is that, because ByteDance is a Chinese company with reams of data about American users, it could be forced to hand that data over to the Chinese government.

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As a result, the bill is seeking to force ByteDance to either divest from TikTok or sell it, or the app will be banned from US app stores and web servers. If the bill becomes law, ByteDance will have 165 days to comply.

TikTok has said that that window isn't large enough to find a buyer and deal with the technical challenges of spinning the app off, but it is the timeline they'll be facing.

Source: YouTube
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Will the bill pass in the Senate?

So, at worst, you'll have almost six months notice before the app just suddenly disappears. It's possible, though, that you may not even have to worry about that eventuality because the choppy waters the bill is headed into in the Senate.

President Biden has asked the Senate to act swiftly, and has already said that he believes the bill is a good one.

TikTok, for its part, is firmly opposed to the bill becoming law for obvious reasons.

“This process was secret and the bill was jammed through for one reason,” the company said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the Senate will consider the facts, listen to their constituents, and realize the impact on the economy, 7 million small businesses, and the 170 million Americans who use our service.”

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