TikTok is reportedly considering a split from ByteDance, its Chinese parent company, in an attempt to ease the national security concerns of lawmakers.
Bloomberg News reveals that the split is considered a last resort if TikTok’s current proposal with national security officials – bringing in American tech giant Oracle to host American user data and review its software, and appointing a three-person government-approved oversight board – doesn’t get their approval.
Authorities with the Chinese Communist Party would have to approve the divestiture, which could result in a sale or initial public offering, sources tell the outlet.
Additionally, Justice Department officials have signaled they do not accept the existing proposal.
— Forbes (@Forbes) March 16, 2023
TikTok Trying Desperately to Avoid US Ban
TikTok’s attempts to avoid a ban in the United States come weeks after relations with the Chinese have been strained due to a spy balloon from the Communist country breaching American air space.
It also comes as multiple reports indicate tangible national security concerns.
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Leaked audio from 80 internal meetings obtained by Buzzfeed News last year shows multiple statements from multiple TikTok employees alleging “engineers in China had access to US data between September 2021 and January 2022, at the very least.”
The data included sensitive, nonpublic data such as birthdays and phone numbers.
“Everything is seen in China,” one person described only as a member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department said.
China accessed data of US TikTok users repeatedly, report sayshttps://t.co/SOGdnLtjgZ
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 19, 2022
Popular podcast host Joe Rogan slammed TikTok, saying that China has access to American users’ data and “knows every f***ing thing you type.”
— Must not sleep. (@Dsignasaur) July 27, 2022
Former President Donald Trump attempted to ban TikTok over fears that China’s access to American users’ data posed a national security threat.
“TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories,” an executive order from August of 2020 reads.
“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” it reads.
For his trouble, Trump was branded by critics as a racist.
🗣️ We’ll say it again: Trump’s choice to selectively ban TikTok and WeChat transactions is an abuse of emergency powers that furthers his xenophobic agenda and hurts immigrants.
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 18, 2020
Denies Reports That They Would Separate
Now, TikTok is facing a barrage of potential bipartisan legislation in Congress, with lawmakers concerned that the app may be forced to share data with the Chinese government.
“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan tells Time Magazine.
TikTok dismisses call for Chinese owners to sell their stakes or face U.S. ban https://t.co/KhjyzQbC6w
— Mike Murphy (@mmmmurf) March 16, 2023
Everyone with kids or grandkids likely knows about TikTok – which has taken the crown for top social media app among young people.
The Senate unanimously passed a bill in December that bans the use of TikTok on government devices.
Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee says, “Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP a backdoor to all their personal information.”
“It’s a spy balloon into your phone,” he said.
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