US tells ByteDance to sell TikTok. It says: ‘If protecting national security…'
TikTok In US: "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," TikTok spokesperson said.
TikTok was dismissive of reports that the Biden administration was calling for its Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the popular video-sharing app, saying such a move wouldn't help protect national security.
The company was responding to a report in The Wall Street Journal that said the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, part of the Treasury Department, was threatening a US ban on the app unless its owners, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., divested.
"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," TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan said.
Read more: US to TikTok’s Chinese owners: Sell stakes or face ban
"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."
The Journal report cited anonymous "people familiar with the matter." The Treasury Department and the White House's National Security Council declined to comment.
Late last month, the White House gave all federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok off all government devices.
The Office of Management and Budget called the guidance a "critical step forward in addressing the risks presented by the app to sensitive government data." Some agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State, already have restrictions in place. The White House already does not allow TikTok on its devices.
Congress passed the "No TikTok on Government Devices Act" in December as part of a sweeping government funding package. The legislation does allow for TikTok use in certain cases, including for national security, law enforcement and research purposes.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in both the House and Senate have been moving forward with legislation that would give the Biden administration more power to clamp down on TikTok.