According to a local media outlet, the Biden administration has asked that the Chinese owners of TikTok sell their stakes in the popular video-sharing app or risk it being banned in the US.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the demand was issued by the US Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), who described the decision as a “significant shift” in the administration’s approach against TikTok.
According to TikTok executives, 60% of TikTok parent firm ByteDance’s shares are owned by global investors, 20% by workers, and 20% by its founders.
According to TikTok, the sale will not alleviate the alleged security issue.
“If the goal is to preserve national security, divestment does not solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any additional constraints on data flows or access,” TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement.
“The best way to address national security concerns is with transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, as well as thorough third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already undertaking,” Oberwetter noted.
The White House has not yet responded to the report.
Since its debut in 2016, the Chinese-owned video-sharing app has grown in popularity around the world, with 755 million global users expected by 2022.
TikTok is now used by two-thirds of American teenagers.
Nonetheless, it has been chastised for granting the Chinese government access to users’ sensitive personal data, such as location and browsing history.