If TikTok’s Chinese owners do not sell their shares in the social media platform, the Biden administration has threatened to outlaw it in the US.
The decision was made in response to concerns that the company’s American user data would be given to China’s authorities. It also happens to coincide with a global backlash against TikTok because to worries about the possibility of Chinese espionage, with nations including the UK, Canada, and Australia recently taking action to ban the app from government phones.
But, this is the first time during Biden’s administration that a potential nationwide ban on TikTok has been suggested. The US has previously prohibited the app on federal government devices.
There would be considerable legal obstacles to any US ban. Trump, Biden’s predecessor, attempted to outlaw TikTok in 2020 but was unable due to legal challenges.
The US Treasury-led committee on foreign investment in the United States (CFIUS), according to a spokesperson for TikTok named Brooke Oberwetter, asked that the Chinese owners of the app sell their shares or risk having the video app banned in the US.
The decision was made as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew prepared to testify before the US Congress the next week.
Data security measures have been under discussion between TikTok and CFIUS for more than two years. TikTok denied claims of espionage and claimed to have invested more than $1.5 billion in stringent data security measures.
The best way to resolve concerns about national security, according to TikTok, is with transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, as well as with effective third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification.
China, however, has said that the US is stifling TikTok and disinformation campaigns.