16th March 2023 – (Washington) The Biden administration has reportedly demanded that TikTok, the popular short-form video app, be sold by its Chinese owners, ByteDance, or face a ban across the United States. The move comes as federal officials seek to address national security concerns about the social media company’s links to Beijing and its handling of user data.
According to sources familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal first reported the development. TikTok spokespeople have confirmed the reporting to several news outlets, with one spokesperson expressing disappointment in the outcome of the ultimatum.
TikTok’s increasing popularity in the US has raised concerns about data privacy and security, with over 100 million Americans using the app. These concerns have prompted the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), a group comprising various government agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, and Commerce, to negotiate with TikTok for over two years. The aim of these negotiations has been to reach a deal that would enable the app to continue operating in the US with more robust safeguards against cybersecurity and privacy risks.
ByteDance has made efforts to alleviate national security concerns by restructuring the company and relocating TikTok’s headquarters to the United States. However, these efforts have not been enough to satisfy the Biden administration’s demands, as the administration seeks to address its concerns more aggressively.
The move to force a sale of TikTok by its Chinese owners is not the first time the US government has taken action against Chinese tech companies. In 2019, the US government blacklisted Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, citing national security concerns. The blacklisting severely restricted Huawei’s ability to do business with US companies.
TikTok’s fate in the US remains uncertain as discussions between the company and the Biden administration continue.