The Biden administration has threatened to ban TikTok from the U.S. unless the app’s Chinese owners agree to divest their share of the social media platform, TikTok acknowledged late Wednesday.
The apparent ultimatum from the multiagency U.S. panel known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) marks a possible turning point in long-running talks between federal officials concerned about TikTok’s links to China and a popular social media company with more than 100 million U.S. dollars. user.
The most recent strip request is The Wall Street Journal first reported on Wednesday; TikTok later confirmed to CNN that CFIUS had contacted the company, adding that it had no objection to the Journal report. But TikTok declined to discuss the specifics of the U.S. government’s request, including details about the timing.
“If protecting national security is the goal, divestment is not the answer,” TikTok spokeswoman Maureen Shanahan said in a statement. “The change in ownership will not impose any new restrictions on data flow or access. National security concerns are best addressed with transparent, U.S.-based protections for U.S. user data and systems, and the strong third-party monitoring, review and verification.”
TikTok has been negotiating with CFIUS for more than two years about a deal that could allow the app to continue operating in the U.S. market. Face security and privacy concerns. U.S. officials worry that the Chinese government could use national security laws to compel TikTok or its Chinese parent company ByteDance to hand over personal information about TikTok’s U.S. users, which could benefit Chinese intelligence operations or influence election campaigns.
The Treasury Department, which chairs CFIUS, declined to comment.
Negotiations with TikTok have remained unresolved, prompting criticism of the Biden administration from some U.S. lawmakers who have pushed for legislation to ban the app.
last year end, Congress passPresident Joe Biden signed legislation to block TikTok from using U.S. government equipment, Following in the footsteps of many state governmentsSince then, the European Union and Canada have followed suit, reflecting growing skepticism of TikTok by Western governments. But so far, there is no evidence that the Chinese government actually accessed TikTok user data, nor has the government enacted a broader ban on TikTok on personal devices.
TikTok has attempted to address policymakers’ concerns with voluntary technical and bureaucratic safeguards that it says will help ensure that U.S. user data is only accessible by U.S. employees. As part of the plan, which the company calls Project Texas, Involved using US cloud computing giant Oracle to store personal data. TikTok launched a similar campaign in Europe this month, called Project Clover.
That hasn’t stopped TikTok’s American critics.Some U.S. lawmakers have moved to expand Biden’s authority to impose a nationwide TikTok ban, independent of the CFIUS process, on top of restrictions targeting U.S. government equipment — a White House proposal soon to be popularThe heat is likely to intensify next week as TikTok CEO Shou Chew is expected to be grilled before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Harry Broadman, a former CFIUS official, said Wednesday’s developments indicated a shift in the often opaque CFIUS talks, although the exact nature of the change remained unclear.
“The need to divest may be the end of the discussion, but it’s just as likely that divestitures are part of what CFIUS wants in terms of maintaining national security,” Broadman said. “Unless I’m in the CFIUS room, it’s really hard to know where the discussions are, and frankly, what’s being discussed publicly is often not aligned with what’s happening at the table.”