There may be pressure on TikTok’s Chinese owners to sell. A fresh story from The Wall Street Journal cites unnamed sources saying that certain Biden administration officials are pushing for a sale of the company’s US operations due to security worries over the popular social media platform.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States discussed the possibility of a forced sale, with members from the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense advocating for the move. Concerns have been raised that the Chinese government may be able to utilize TikTok, which is owned by Chinese giant ByteDance, to collect data on US users and censor or promote certain types of content “in an effort to influence US popular opinion.”
TikTok says that it has been working with the CFIUS for over two years to address “all reasonable national security concerns” about the company and that it has made substantial progress addressing concerns about corporate governance, content recommendation and moderation, and data security and access.
Those “concerns may be entirely remedied,” TikTok said in a statement, adding that the business had gone “far beyond what any peer company is doing today” in its efforts to cooperate with the CFIUS.
In recent weeks, TikTok-related national security worries have increased. There was a story earlier this month that said the Biden administration will delay negotiations with the app about its US business due to national security concerns. Several jurisdictions have banned the app’s usage on government-issued devices and networks, including Virginia and Georgia. Additionally, certain colleges and universities in those areas have restricted the app’s use on campus.
The ownership of TikTok and its potential impact on national security are perennial issues. The Trump administration tried to have the social networking site banned in the United States, but they were unsuccessful.