The dispute regarding the fate of TikTok escalated further on Wednesday when the Biden Administration warned of a potential nationwide prohibition on the viral video app unless its Chinese parent company agreed to sell its ownership stake. The Wall Street Journal first broke the news of the latest request for divestiture.
Cfius Demands A Divestiture From ByteDance
CFIUS issued an ultimatum to ByteDance regarding TikTok, increasing tension between the two parties. The U.S. government is concerned about the app’s Chinese ties and the possibility of national security risks. As a Chinese company, ByteDance is subject to national security regulations that could allow China’s Communist Party to access critical information about Americans.
Push To Ban Tiktok In The U.S.
TikTok has gained over 1 billion active users since its 2016 launch, including 100 million in the U.S., but concerns about the Chinese government’s access to user data have led to efforts to ban the app. Representative Michael McCaul and other Republican lawmakers claim that by downloading TikTok, users have potentially given the Chinese Communist Party access to their personal information, likening it to a “spy balloon” that allows the party to gain entry into their mobile device.
TikTok is strongly opposed to CFIUS’s demand for divestiture, saying it won’t solve security issues. The company believes that changing ownership won’t impose new restrictions on data flows or access, and that transparency is the need of the hour to address national security concerns. According to a representative from TikTok, the company is already implementing third-party vetting, monitoring, and verification to protect its users’ data and systems in the U.S.
CEO Of TikTok Set To Testify
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to appear before Congress next week as lawmakers express concern over the app’s security risks. The hearing will focus on issues such as data privacy, content moderation, and foreign interference in U.S. elections through the platform. While TikTok has taken steps to address these concerns, including partnering with third-party content moderators and establishing a transparency center, U.S. officials remain unconvinced of its security credentials.
Bans On TikTok In Other Countries
Several countries have cut ties with TikTok due to privacy and security concerns. India banned several Chinese-owned apps, including WeChat, amid rising tensions at the India-China border. Other countries are struggling to balance users’ privacy with national security concerns as the debate around TikTok’s security credentials continues. Pakistan banned the app several times due to concerns about inappropriate content, and Afghanistan’s Taliban government banned it for leading youth astray. Canada, the U.S., and Taiwan have restricted access to the platform on government-issued devices. The UK has also banned the use of TikTok on government devices.
Impact On TikTok Users
The potential TikTok ban is worrying content creators who rely on the platform for income through the Creator Fund and brand deals. Top earners on TikTok can make up to $250,000 per sponsored post. Some users fear losing their careers if the app is banned, with one user questioning who will inform the Biden administration that TikTok is crucial to some people’s livelihoods.