The Chinese-owned social media app, TikTok, has reportedly received a warning from the Biden Administration stating that it will face a ban unless its Chinese owners sell their stakes in the company.
TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has come under scrutiny from lawmakers in the US due to concerns that the Chinese government could use the app to gain access to private user data or spread misinformation.
Last year, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (Cfius) launched a national security review of the app, and former President Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok in the US, but the attempt was blocked in court. Recently, some universities, states, and federal agencies have banned TikTok due to security concerns.
The Wall Street Journal reported the demand for the app’s sale. However, TikTok has argued that divestment would not solve the issue of national security concerns, stating that a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.
TikTok has committed to improving its safety controls and announced that it would be routing all US user traffic to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to safeguard its app, systems, and the security of US user data. The company has argued that the best way to address national security concerns is to have transparent, US-based protection of user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which it is already implementing.
While the Cfius has not yet responded on this matter, it remains to be seen how TikTok will respond to the demand from the Biden Administration.