US federal authorities recently threatened to ban TikTok in the US if its owners in China did not sell their stake in the company, multiple media outlets reported on Wednesday (March 15), a significant escalation as the platform comes under fire. The Atlantic due to national security and data privacy concerns.
Warning issued before Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States), a government agency empowered to review certain investments for national security reasons, reported that Wall Street Journal Wednesday late afternoon, citing several unnamed sources.
A TikTok spokesperson confirmed to Forbes that the platform, which is owned by Beijing-based technology firm ByteDance, was contacted by CFIUS and did not dispute the information. Wall Street Journalbut the company did not provide details of the US government’s request.
What form this divestment will take is not clear. ByteDance’s founders own 20% of the company and control a disproportionate share of its voting rights, while employees own 20% and 60% to investors worldwide, according to the report. Wall Street Journal.
In a statement to ForbesTikTok claimed that “divestment does not solve the problem” and that “the change in ownership will not impose new restrictions on data flow or access”.
The US Treasury Department, which administers CFIUS, declined to comment.
Tuesday, bloomberg It reported that TikTok executives are willing to part ways with ByteDance to avoid a ban, either by selling the app or taking it public, though the company sees selling as a last resort.
Last week, several US senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would give the Commerce Department the power to ban certain foreign technologies that pose an “excessive or unacceptable risk” to Americans. The bill doesn’t explicitly mention TikTok, but senators saw that as a potential threat.
TikTok’s ties to China have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months amid concerns the Chinese government is using the app to access Americans’ data. The last year, Forbes reported that hundreds of TikTok and ByteDance employees have worked for Chinese state media and that some ByteDance employees have used the app to spy on journalists from Forbes that covered the company’s activities (TikTok said the employees involved in the espionage were no longer working for ByteDance and called their actions a “gross abuse of their power”). Last week, a former ByteDance employee told the Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley that employees can easily switch between US and Chinese data with limited consents, which contradicts TikTok’s claims. CFIUS has been investigating TikTok for years, but some senators have encouraged the agency to end its investigation. Connecticut Senator Democrat Richard Blumenthal And a Republican from Kansas Jerry Moran The agency urged “strict structural constraints” on the links between the platform and ByteDance. Former President of the United States Donald Trump It previously attempted to ban TikTok on national security grounds in 2020, but the move was blocked by federal courts.
For its part, TikTok has sought to win the trust of politicians and regulators, a spokesperson for the platform said Forbes that the company has been working with CFIUS to address its concerns for more than two years. Last year, the company said US user data was transferred to servers owned by Texas-based Oracle, and it allegedly asked Oracle to audit its algorithms to ensure they were safe from the Chinese government.
Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Joe Walsh
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