The Biden administration has demanded that the Chinese-owned TikTok be sold or the app will face a nationwide ban in the U.S.
A TikTok spokesperson said that the company had recently received the news from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
The committee told Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok, or the app could face a U.S. ban. It is unknown whether federal officials gave TikTok a deadline to find a buyer.
The company is “disappointed in the outcome,” a TikTok spokesperson tells NPR.
According to the publication, the new demand from U.S. federal officials will almost certainly be met with a legal challenge from TikTok.
The demand is a major escalation by the Biden administration who have become increasingly concerned about the national security risks posed by TikTok and the safety of American users’ data.
It is also the first time the Biden administration has categorically threatened to ban TikTok. In September 2020, President Donald Trump attempted to ban the video-sharing app across the U.S. However a few days later, Trump’s ban was halted by federal courts.
The Data of 100 Million Americans
Federal officials are concerned that American user data on TikTok could fall into the hands of the Chinese government, due to a law in China that compels firms to hand over information to Beijing if they are requested to do so. TikTok is used by more than 100 million Americans.
TikTok has repeatedly stated that U.S. user data is not stored in China where those laws apply. And the company has sought to assure U.S. lawmakers that American user data is safe.
Last year, the company agreed to implement several measures to address U.S. officials’ security concerns.
TikTok’s lobbying efforts, which have been dubbed “Project Texas”, include bringing in American tech giant Oracle Corp to host U.S. user data and review its software. The video-sharing app will also appoint a three-person government-approved oversight board.
However, TikTok’s proposals have so far not assuaged U.S. regulators’ concerns about its parent company ByteDance’s connections with the Chinese Communist Party and the safety of Americans’ data.
In an interview with the The Wall Street Journal today, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew says that a sale of TikTok will not resolve America’s national-security concerns over the video-sharing app.
A British Ban
Relations between the West and China have been deteriorating for some time and TikTok has become the subject of increased scrutiny.
Today, the U.K. banned TikTok from all government devices with immediate effect, citing security fears linked to the video-sharing app’s ownership by a Chinese company.
The U.K government described the ban as a “precautionary” but “prudent” move, following a review by the National Cyber Security Centre.
A spokesperson for TikTok criticizes the decision: “We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics, in which TikTok, and our millions of users in the UK, play no part.
According to The Times of London, the U.K.’s security minister Tom Tugendhat has not ruled out a full national ban of the video-sharing app.
“It will be addressed with the challenges we face, with the threats we face,” Tugendhat says.
Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau banned TikTok on government-issued devices over fears that users’ data could be misused.
Meanwhile, in February, the European Commission, the executive power of the European Union (EU), banned its staff from using TikTok over security fears.
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