The Biden administration wants TikTok’s Chinese parent company to divest itself of the popular social media platform, or it could face a possible nationwide ban, TikTok confirmed to news outlets this week.
The Wall Street Journal said the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) had recently made the divestment request, and a TikTok spokesperson did not dispute that account.
The Treasury Department, of which CFIUS is a part, declined to comment. The White House and National Security Council also declined to comment.
“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem,” TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan told CBS News in a statement. “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.”
A spokesperson for TikTok also said it was not exactly clear what divestment would actually look like, and that concrete details on this were not provided to the company. It was not clear if the company was given any sort of deadline.
TikTok, which is owned by the Beijing-based ByteDance, has already been banned on federal government devices, including military devices, and more than half of U.S. states have banned the app on state government devices as well. There has been increasing bipartisan support for a full nationwide ban over possible national security concerns.
“TikTok is a modern-day Trojan horse of the [Chinese Communist Party], used to surveil and exploit Americans’ personal information,” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in February. “It’s a spy balloon in your phone.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month. He is expected to face tough questions over the company’s data collection and sharing procedures.