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TikTok rejects calls from Chinese owners for US divestiture

TikTok rejects calls from Chinese owners for US divestiture

TikTok on Wednesday played down reports that the Biden administration was urging its Chinese owners to sell their stake in the popular video-sharing app, saying such a move would not help protect national security.

The company was responding to a report by The Wall Street Journal that said the U.S. Foreign Investment Committee, part of the Treasury Department, was threatening a U.S. ban on the app unless its owners, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., sold it.

“If the goal is to protect national security, divestment does not solve the problem: a change of ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flow or access,” said TikTok spokeswoman Maureen Shanahan. “The best way to address national security concerns is with transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, validation and verification that we already implement.”

The newspaper quoted anonymous “people familiar with the matter”. The Treasury Department and the White House National Security Council declined to comment.

Late last month, the White House gave all federal agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from all government devices.

The Office of Management and Budget called the guidelines “a critical step forward in addressing the threats the app poses to sensitive government data.” Some agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State, have already put restrictions in place. The White House no longer allows TikTok on its devices.

Congress passed the “No TikTok on Government Devices” bill in December as part of a massive government funding package. Legislation allows TikTok to be used in certain cases, including for national security, law enforcement, and research purposes.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in both the House and Senate are moving forward with legislation that would give the Biden administration more power to restrict TikTok.

Representative Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was a vocal critic of the app, saying that the Chinese Communist Party uses it to “manipulate and monitor users while it devours Americans’ data for exploitation.” malicious actions.”

“Everyone who downloaded TikTok on their device gave the CCP a backdoor to all their personal information. It’s a spy balloon in your phone,” said the Texas Republican.

TikTok remains extremely popular and is used by two-thirds of US teens. However, there are growing concerns that Beijing may take control of the US user data that the app has obtained.

The company is flouting the ban on federal devices and has noted that it is developing data security and privacy plans as part of the Biden administration’s ongoing national security review.


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