The Biden administration has required Chinese owners of TikTok to divest their stake in the popular video app or risk a possible US ban.the company told Reuters on Wednesday.
The United States fears that the Chinese government will use the data of TikTok users
The move, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the most sweeping in a series of recent moves by US officials and lawmakers who have raised fears that data from US TikTok users could fall into the hands of the Chinese government. TikTok, owned by ByteDance, has more than 100 million US users.
It is the first time under Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration that a possible ban on TikTok has been threatened. Biden’s predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, had tried to ban TikTok in 2020, but was blocked by the court.
TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter told Reuters the company had recently heard from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), led by the US Treasury Department, demanding that the app’s Chinese owners sell their shares. US ban on the video app.
According to the Journal, 60% of ByteDance’s shares are held by international investors, 20% by employees and 20% by the founders.
CFIUS, a powerful national security agency, had unanimously recommended in 2020 that ByteDance divest from TikTok.
“If the goal is to protect national security, divestment does not solve the problem: a change of ownership would not impose new restrictions on data flows or access,” TikTok’s Oberwetter said in a statement.
The White House declined to comment.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will appear before the US Congress next week. It is unclear whether the Chinese government will approve the divestment.
Any US ban would run into significant legal hurdles.
TikTok and CFIUS have been negotiating data security requirements for more than two years. TikTok claims it has spent more than $1.5 billion on rigorous data security efforts and denies espionage allegations.
TikTok said on Wednesday that “national security concerns are best addressed with transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, with robust third-party oversight, investigation and verification.
Last week, The White House supported legislation introduced by a dozen senators to give the government new powers to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose a threat to national security.. It could give the Biden administration fresh ammunition in the courts if they tried to ban TikTok.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan praised the bipartisan bill, saying it would “strengthen our ability to deal with the individual risks of individual transactions and the systemic risks of certain types of transactions involving countries of interest in sensitive technology sectors.” .”
The House Foreign Affairs Committee this month voted along party lines on a bill sponsored by Republican Representative Michael McCaul to give Biden the power to ban TikTok.
The Jerusalem Post