Biden Administration Demands TikTok Sale or Faces Potential U.S. Ban
The Biden administration has taken a significant step by demanding that TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app, be sold or potentially face a ban in the United States. While it remains unclear if a specific deadline has been given, this move represents a significant escalation as U.S. officials express mounting concerns about the safety of American users' data on the platform, which boasts over 100 million American users.
This is the first time the Biden administration has explicitly threatened to ban TikTok, following previous attempts by former President Trump that were halted by federal courts. It is anticipated that TikTok will challenge the new demand in court, raising potential legal hurdles.
A crucial aspect of any acquisition of TikTok by an American company would require approval from Chinese authorities, who have traditionally been resistant to the idea of selling their first global social media success.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) has been examining the safeguarding of U.S. data for two years. In response, TikTok has proposed "Project Texas," a $1.5 billion plan aimed at strengthening data protection and creating a strict separation between TikTok and its Beijing parent company. The proposal involves the supervision of Texas-based software company Oracle, as well as independent monitors and auditors to prevent unauthorized access to U.S. user data by ByteDance or Chinese officials.
Initially, CFIUS seemed satisfied with TikTok's safety measures, but the proposed deal had not received formal approval. However, CFIUS has now rejected TikTok's proposal and is demanding that ByteDance sell the app, a move that ByteDance has strongly resisted for years.
TikTok's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, following the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would grant President Biden the authority to ban TikTok. The demand from CFIUS for TikTok to divest from ByteDance does not fully address lawmakers' concerns about data security on the app, according to TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter, who emphasized the company's commitment to transparent, U.S.-based protection of user data with robust third-party monitoring.
As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how TikTok, the Biden administration, and Chinese authorities will navigate this critical issue that intersects with data privacy, national security, and international relations.