The Biden administration has threatened to ban TikTok if the app’s Chinese owners do not sell their stakes in the company, according to the video-sharing app.
TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance and used by more than 100 million people in the U.S., has come under fire from lawmakers over concerns that the Chinese government could use the app to gain access to private user data or spread misinformation.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius, launched a national security review of the app in 2020. Former President Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok that year but was blocked in court. More recently, TikTok has been banned by certain universities, states and federal agencies over security concerns.
The sale demand was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Cfius did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and TikTok declined to discuss specifics around the government’s request.
TikTok argues a divestment wouldn’t solve concerns over national security.
“A change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan said in a statement.
The company said in June that it was committed to improving its safety controls and would be routing all U.S. user traffic to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure “to better safeguard our app, systems, and the security of US user data.”
“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,” Shanahan said.