(WASHINGTON) — The Biden administration is demanding TikTok’s Chinese owner sell its stake in the app or risk getting banned, the company and a U.S. official told ABC News.
TikTok confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that it was recently contacted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). The company said CFIUS prefers for ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok, rather than reach an agreement with the U.S. government over national security concerns.
This move is an escalation and comes as the administration has been publicly hardening its stance against TikTok. Last week, the White House came out in support of bipartisan legislation that could be used to ban TikTok.
The administration has been negotiating an agreement over data security with TikTok for two years now. This news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In a statement to ABC News, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said: “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 added that it will continue to move forward with a plan called “Project Texas” to safeguard U.S. user data as it evaluates the Biden administration’s new position.
The White House and Treasury Department, which oversees CFIUS, declined to comment.
TikTok has come under growing pressure in Washington amid concerns that the popular video sharing app’s parent company ByteDance would share U.S. user data with the Chinese government. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before Congress for the first time next week.
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