TikTok, the popular video-sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is facing a possible ban in the US unless it is sold. The app is accused of posing a national security risk by collecting data from millions of users. The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which oversees national security risks, unanimously recommended that ByteDance divests from TikTok. The app’s management, however, claims that a forced sale would not change its data flows or access.
Background of the TikTok US ban
For years, American officials have raised concerns that TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, could pose a national security risk by gathering data from millions of users. The app is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which has access to large amounts of data on its users, including biometric and location data. American officials fear that this information could be passed to the Chinese government, compromising national security.
The potential risk for the app if the TikTok US ban happens
TikTok’s collection of user data has been a source of controversy, with some experts warning that it could pose a national security risk. The app collects data on its users’ activity, including their search history, location, and contacts.
It also collects biometric data, such as facial recognition data, and has been accused of using this data to build a database of user profiles. Critics argue that this data could be used to track individuals and gather information on sensitive national security matters.
US government’s precautions
The US government has taken steps to protect national security by calling for a change in ownership of TikTok. The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which oversees national security risks, has unanimously recommended that ByteDance divests from TikTok.
The management of TikTok, however, claims that a forced sale would not change its data flows or access. The app has also undertaken an effort to move all US-based data to the US as part of an initiative called Project Texas. The US government has not yet responded to the request for comment from multiple presses.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify soon
TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, will be speaking to a committee in the US House of Representatives on March 23 about the security, privacy practices, and relationship with China through parent company ByteDance. This will be the first time Chew has appeared before a Congressional panel, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be hosting the hearing.
The chair of the committee, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, alleges that TikTok has granted the Chinese Communist Party access to American user data. However, a TikTok spokesperson denies this accusation and welcomes the opportunity to address concerns regarding US national security in front of the committee. The spokesperson also confirms that data sharing with the Chinese Communist Party would not be possible under the proposed plan with US national security agencies through CFIUS.