Tik Tok reports that the US is threatening to impose sanctions if it does not sell Chinese stocks

  • By James Clayton & Ben Derico
  • BBC News, San Francisco

image source, Good pictures

The US government says TikTok must be sold or face a ban in the country.

The video-sharing app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has been accused of posing a national security risk with data collected from millions of users.

The company said the forced sale would not change its data flows or access.

The White House has not yet responded to BBC News’ request for comment.

US officials have raised concerns over the years that the popular app’s data could fall into the hands of the Chinese government.

According to the WSJ, US President Joe Biden’s administration wants Byte Dance to distance itself from TikTok to create a clear distance from China.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which oversees national security risks, unanimously recommended ByteDance’s divestment from TikTok, the newspaper said.

A spokesperson for TikTok said it did not deny the WSJ’s report and confirmed it had been contacted by CFIUS.

However, the spokesperson said the report was exaggerated and it was not clear what “deviation” meant in practice.

“If the goal is to protect national security, desegregation does not solve the problem: a change in ownership does not impose new restrictions on data flows or access.” said the speaker.

“The best way to address national security concerns is transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems”.

A ban was first threatened in 2020 under then-President Donald Trump.

However, Mr Biden’s administration has also taken a dim view of the social network.

Like Instagram and Twitter, TikTok collects large amounts of data on its users.

It can take biometric data from users and access location data. It is feared that this information may be sent to the Chinese government.

TikTok says it has made an effort to move all US-based data to the US as part of an initiative called Project Texas.

The company told BBC News it plans to move forward with the project.

The new law, which expands the president’s authority to ban TikTok nationwide, was unveiled in the Senate a week after it was announced.

The restriction act would allow the U.S. Commerce Department to declare foreign-affiliated companies as national security risks.

TikTok is banned on government phones in the United States, Canada and the European Union.

Its chief executive, Sho Chi Siew, is set to testify in a widely anticipated showdown before the US Congress next week.

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