The Chinese-owned social media company TikTok has allegedly received a formal warning from the Biden Administration that the app could face a nationwide ban from the United States if its current owner does not sell it to another company.
According to Axios, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has told the company that the federal government will institute a ban on the app within the United States if its parent company, ByteDance, does not sell its stake. ByteDance is a Chinese company with many well-documented connections to the Chinese government, currently run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of Chairman Xi Jinping.
In response, an anonymous source within TikTok complained to Axios that the company is not clear on what exactly the CFIUS wants them to do, as many of ByteDance’s shares are actually owned by various global investment firms, thus making it harder to sell everything on short notice. Already anticipating such a ban, TikTok has already been working on efforts to allegedly separate the backend functions and coding of its American outreach from its Chinese-owned headquarters, an operation known as “Project Texas.”
The company released a statement criticizing the idea of forced divestment, saying that “if protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.”
”The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing,” the statement continued.
TikTok is an app where users can post short, vertically-filmed videos, which were originally done for the purpose of lip-syncing famous songs, but have since expanded to many other purposes. Several social media influencers have risen to stardom through their TikTok videos, and the app itself now has well over 100 million users in just the United States alone.