The Biden administration has threatened to ban TikTok in the US unless the social media company’s Chinese owners divest their stakes in it, according to news reports on Wednesday.The move, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the most dramatic in a series of escalations by US officials and legislators, driven by fears that US user data held by the company could be passed on to China’s government.
It also comes amid a global backlash to the popular video-based app over concerns about the potential for Chinese spying, with countries including the UK, Canada and Australia recently moving to ban the app from government phones.The US has already banned TikTok on federal government devices but this marks the first time under Biden’s administration that a potential nationwide ban on TikTok has been threatened.
Any US ban would face significant legal hurdles. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had tried to ban TikTok in 2020 but was blocked by the courts.TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter told Reuters that the company had recently heard from the US Treasury-led committee on foreign investment in the United States (CFIUS), which demanded that the Chinese owners of the app sell their shares, and said otherwise they would face a possible US ban of the video app.TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social networks with more than 100 million US users.The Journal said 60% of ByteDance shares are owned by global investors, 20% by employees and 20% by its founders.
CFIUS, a powerful national security body in 2020 had unanimously recommended that ByteDance divest TikTok.“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions onRead more on theguardian.com