TikTok rejects US calls for Chinese owners to sell stakes – The Diplomat

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

The company responded to a report in The Wall Street Journal that said the US Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment was threatening to ban the app in the US unless its owners, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., sold their assets. .

“If the goal is to protect national security, the takeover will not solve the problem: the change of ownership will not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access to them,” said TikTok spokeswoman Maureen Shanahan. “The best way to address national security concerns is to transparently protect US user data and systems in the US with the robust third-party monitoring, verification, and verification that we are already implementing.”

The WSJ report cites 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 wipe TikTok from all government devices.

Do you like this article? Click here to sign up for full access. Only $5 per month.

The Office of Management and Budget called the guidance “an important step forward in addressing the risks associated with sensitive government data that the app presents.” Some agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State, have already imposed restrictions. The White House no longer allows TikTok on its devices.

In December, Congress passed the “Law to Ban TikTok on Government Devices” as part of a massive public funding package. Legislation allows the use of TikTok in certain cases, including for national security, law enforcement, and research purposes.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in both the House and Senate are pushing a bill that would give the Biden administration more power to crack down on TikTok.

Rep. Mike McCall, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has been openly critical of the app, saying that the Chinese Communist Party uses it to “manipulate and control its users while it consumes Americans’ data to use for their malicious activities.” “.

“Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the PDA access to all their personal information. It’s a spy ball in your phone,” said the Texas Republican.

TikTok remains extremely popular and is used by two-thirds of teens in the US. But there are growing concerns that Beijing could gain control over US user data the app has obtained.

The company has rejected the federal device ban and said it is developing data security and privacy plans as part of the Biden administration’s ongoing national security review.

Meanwhile, China on Thursday accused the United States of spreading misinformation and cracking down on TikTok.

The United States has yet to provide evidence that TikTok threatens its national security and uses the excuse of data security to abuse its powers to suppress foreign companies, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing.

“The US must stop spreading misinformation about data security, stop harassing the company concerned, and provide an open, fair, and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies to invest and operate in the US,” Wang said.

Do you like this article? Click here to sign up for full access. Only $5 per month.

China has long been concerned about the influence of foreign social media and communication apps and has banned most of the most famous ones, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.