The Biden administration is escalating its pressure campaign against TikTok, threatening a US ban on the world’s most popular app if the company doesn’t split ownership in China.
The current administration’s interest around the popular app has grown dramatically in recent days. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the US government is again looking to separate the app from its Chinese owners, asking for a sale through the Commission on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
TikTok has objected to the new White House request, arguing that the proposed solution will not address the US government’s concerns. TikTok claims that the company’s own unusual gesture in self-regulation – experiencing a audit of US-based tech giant Oracleamong other measures — will yield more solutions.
“If protecting national security is the goal, divestment does not solve the problem: changing ownership will not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” said the person. TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan told TechCrunch. “The best way to address national security concerns is to protect the data and systems of US users transparently, based in the US, with strong monitoring, auditing and verification. third party that we are deploying.”
That program, called Project Texas, is part of an ongoing TikTok charm offensive in the United States that seeks to portray the company’s U.S. operations as transparent and accountable. The campaign comes with about $1.5 billion in infrastructure spending and corporate reorganization to erect a firewall between the company’s U.S. business and its ownership. in China.
In an interview with the Journal, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew argued that Project Texas would put US data out of reach of the Chinese government. He declined to answer whether the founders of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance would be willing to divest.
“I welcome feedback on the other risks we’re talking about that this doesn’t address,” Chew said in the interview. “So far I haven’t heard of anything that can’t really be solved this way.”
The TikTok national security story began under the Trump administration. Trump’s White House threats against the company eventually culminated in a plan to force TikTok to sell its US operations to Oracle by the end of 2020. At the time, TikTok also declined the offer. offered to buy from Microsoft, but ultimately did not sell to Oracle.
The deal was shelved indefinitely when Biden took office the following year, the result of shifting White House priorities and a series of Successful court challenge by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.
Last year, TikTok’s odd relationship with Oracle took a new turn, with the company transferring data about users in the US. to Oracle’s domestic servers. During the same period, a explosive story from BuzzFeed recorded TikTok internal discussions in which Chinese employees admitted to having open access to US users’ data – a report that goes against the company’s assurances.
Since then, the Biden administration has expressed its own concerns over the popular Chinese app, which has taken the world by storm and knocked out incumbent social media apps based in China. headquarters in the United States.
On Thursday, Emily Baker-White, who has published several stories that shed light on TikTok and national security concerns, reported that the FBI and Justice Department are even company investigation for fear that it has American journalists surveyed. The UK also announced a TikTok ban on government devices on Thursday — a move that the US government had made before. In recent months, some US-based colleges have followed suitcomply with guidance issued by state executive orders restricting the application.
During a recent Senate Intelligence hearing, FBI director Chris Wray speaks out about his own agency’s concerns about the app and its relationship with an authoritarian state that has increasingly hostile relations with the United States Wray affirmed his belief that the Chinese government could force TikTok’s operations in the United States to award giving them control of the software, which affects millions of Americans. If that happens, Wray argues that there may be no “external indication” that the app has been compromised.
“One thing that is very sacred in our country — the difference between the private sector and the public sector — is that boundaries do not exist in the way the CCP operates,” Wray said.
The timing of new efforts by the Biden administration to sound the alarm about TikTok is perhaps no coincidence. Next week, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chief executive officer for the first time before Congress. The hearing, scheduled for March 23, will explore “consumer privacy and data security practices, the platform’s impact on children and relationships.” their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party,” according to the now Republican-led committee.
“Americans deserve to know how these actions affect their data privacy and security, and the actions TikTok is taking to keep it safe,” said Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers. keep our kids safe from harm online and offline.”