The US government has demanded that TikTok sell its China stake or else face a possible ban in the country.
One of the largest (and fastest-growing) short video platforms in the market today, TikTok is owned by ByteDance (a Chinese company). Officials have been concerned that it poses a data security risk through information gathered on millions of users.
American officials have for years raised concerns that data collected on US-based users could somehow be accessed by the Chinese government. The app has already been banned from government phones in the US, Canada, and the EU.
The request for a change of ownership was first reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and later confirmed by TikTok. According to the WSJ, President Biden’s administration wants ByteDance to divest itself in order to create a total break from Chinese reach. The move was unanimously recommended by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, which oversees national security risks.
But according to TikTok, divesting its stake would not do much to change the current data flows and access.
“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, US-based protection of US user data and systems,” a spokesperson of the company said. TikTok also says it has already carried out an effort to move data on American users to the US as part of an initiative it referred to as Project Texas. Earlier this month, the company also launched a similar initiative (Project Clover) to allay similar security fears in the European Union.