US Threatens National Ban On TikTok

Nearly two-and-a-half years after the Trump administration threatened to ban TikTok in the US if it didn’t leave its Chinese owners, the Biden administration is now doing the same. A US ban on the world’s most popular social media app would affect  around 150 million users.

TikTok has said that US government officials are asking TikTok’s owners to sell their stake in the company, or risk facing a US ban of the app.

Over the past few months, the US government has been ramping up pressure on Chinese-owned technology companies and TikTok, the social video platform owned by ByteDance. The new directive comes from the multiagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), following years of negotiations between TikTok and the government body. 

The apparent ultimatum by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US CFIUS marks a major escalation by White House officials in the long-running negotiations between the company’s Beijing-headquartered owner ByteDance and federal officials who say that TikTok’s link to China poses a potential national security threat.

The new ultimatum from the US government represents an apparent escalation in pressure from Washington as more lawmakers once again raise national security concerns about the app. Some in Washington have expressed concerns that the app could be infiltrated by the Chinese government to essentially spy on American users or gain access to US user data or that it could be used to spread propaganda to a US audience. 

The US underlying concern comes because any company doing business in China ultimately falls under Chinese Communist Party laws which require full data disclosure of the operating algorithms

TikTok isn’t very different from other social networks in the way it collects data or how it communicates with company servers. That’s still a lot of personally revealing information, but it doesn’t imply that TikTok’s app itself is inherently malicious or a kind of spyware. That’s why the concern really focuses on TikTok and ByteDance’s relationship to the Chinese government, and why the Biden administration is pushing for TikTok’s Chinese owners to sell their shares.

India banned TikTok in the summer of 2020, following a violent border clash between the country and China and this is happening while a number of other countries, including the United States, Canada and United Kingdom have recently enacted bans of TikTok on official, government devices.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters on Thursday March 16th that the US has yet to provide evidence that TikTok threatens its national security and was using the excuse of data security to abuse its power to suppress foreign countries.

CNN:     Time:    Bloomberg:     BBC:    Reuters:   Forbes:     Wired:

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