We’ve been talking about the possibility of a TikTok ban in the United States for some time now, and the latest news suggests that it is closer than ever.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration has threatened to ban the social media app in the country if its Chinese stakeholders do not sell their shares in the company. The administration is reportedly shifting its policy due to growing pressure from Congress and public opinion in the country, as data and national security concerns fuel concerns over the app.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius—a multiagency federal task force that oversees national-security risks in cross-border investments—made the sale demand recently, the people said.
In response to the news, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement that this would not solve the issues that the government hopes to when it comes to data privacy.
“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access…The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing.”
TikTok has proposed a $1.5 security plan to store all U.S. customer data in the United States and also task U.S. company Oracle with oversight. However, that plan is receiving criticism, saying that it still leaves the company vulnerable to the Chinese government due to continued Chinese ownership.
Today’s report comes within a week of Congress introducing a bill that could bring a nationwide TikTok ban within reach. Canada also recently banned the social media app on government devices. While TikTok rolls out new features, it’s hard to wonder if users will even get to use them.