The popular video-sharing app, TikTok, could face a ban in the United States unless its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sells its stakes in the company. This latest development comes amid concerns that the app’s links to China could compromise user data security. According to a report by Reuters, the Biden administration has threatened to ban the app unless ByteDance sells its shares.
Related: US Government Worried About Dangers Posed by Chinese Apps on American Phones
TikTok, which has over 100 million users in the United States, has been a formidable competitor for social media giants such as YouTube and Instagram. Both companies have had to adapt their apps to better compete with TikTok. YouTube even launched its own version of short-form videos called Shorts, a direct competitor to TikTok.
President Donald Trump tried to ban the app in 2020, but his move was blocked. This latest threat by the Biden administration is the first time that a TikTok ban has been threatened under the new administration.
ByteDance confirmed to Reuters that 60% of its shares are owned by global investors, 20% are owned by employees, and the remaining 20% is owned by the company’s founders. Despite these ownership structures, some are still concerned that a Chinese-owned company like ByteDance could be compelled to hand over user data to the Chinese government. However, ByteDance has already made moves to prevent this by storing international user data outside of China.
The United States government has already banned TikTok from its devices over security concerns. However, it remains unclear whether a countrywide ban is feasible, given the legal objections that are likely to arise.