The US government is once again taking a firm stance against the popular social media platform TikTok. According to CNN, the company has been given an ultimatum to remove itself from owner ByteDance or risk being banned in the United States.
Of course, while the ultimatum is framed that way, it actually functions in reverse. The real ultimatum is to ByteDance, warning the company to sell TikTok or see its platform banned in the US.
Either way, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has sent the message to TikTok, as confirmed by the company:
“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, US-based protection of US user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing.”
Lawmakers in the US and in other nations have often voiced concerns about TikTok potentially sharing data with the Chinese government. For example, in Canada and the UK the platform is banned from all government devices.
ByteDance and TikTok have always denied working with the Chinese government. In response to the latest ultimatum, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the United States “has so far failed to produce evidence that TikTok threatens US national security.”
In December, a bill to ban TikTok from all US government devices sought to follow the precedent set in the UK and Canada.
In July 2020, an executive order signed by Trump stopped ByteDance from handling any transactions in the United States. Microsoft registered its interest in the company shortly after. However, ByteDance was reluctant to sell its US business completely and instead partnered with Oracle to deliver its source code in the country.
What's clear is, Microsoft's interest was serious. In fact, the company was meeting with ByteDance before Trump's order, going as far as to sign a nonbinding agreement.
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