TikTok faces ultimatum from Biden administration: Sell or be banned

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 4,168   +1,421
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In a nutshell: The US government is pressuring ByteDance to sell TikTok over national security concerns. TikTok has offered a $1.5bn security plan to protect user data from Chinese government influence, but the Biden administration demands a change in ownership. Will ByteDance sell or risk losing 100 million US users?

The Whitehouse has demanded that TikTok's Chinese owners divest themselves of the company, or it will ban the popular app in the US. The Biden administration has had a contentious relationship with TikTok owner ByteDance for the last few years, having barred the app on government-owned devices over national security concerns.

On Wednesday, anonymous insiders told The Wall Street Journal that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, or Cfius (pronounced sif-ee-ous), made the demand recently after criticism that the administration was not taking the threat to national security seriously enough. Divestment would mean that Beijing-based ByteDance would essentially have to sell TikTok to someone outside of China.

According to TikTok, worldwide investors own 60 percent of the company. Its founders, Zhang Yiming, ByteDance Chief Executive Liang Rubo, and others, own 20 percent, including most of the voting shares. Employees another 20 percent through stock options.

The company claims that forcing the sale would not alleviate the Biden administration's perceived security risks.

"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," said TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter.

Instead, TikTok offers an alternative by pledging $1.5 billion to implement a system to protect US customers' personal information and platform content from Chinese government influence and data collection.

"The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing," Oberwetter said.

Indeed, Reuters notes that TikTok finished migrating US user data to stateside Oracle servers last June. ByteDance hoped the transfer would satisfy Washington's security concerns, but it appears it hasn't. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled for a grilling in front of Congress next week.

The Biden administration and the Treasury Department, which heads Cfius, declined to comment on the alleged divestiture demand. However, the stance taken by US officials has been unequivocal for over two years.

Senior US officials, including Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, continue to raise alarms about China's national security legislation. The law mandates that Chinese-owned companies surrender customer data upon request, making Washington worry about potential surveillance by Beijing. The officials argue that even if TikTok implements its promised $1.5 billion security plan, the Chinese-owned company would still be at risk of data breaches and manipulation by the Chinese government.

Image credit: Anthony Quintano

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I would never install Chinese software on my computer. Crazy to be that tiktok hasn't been banned already. Everything China does is suspect.
I would not install that either, but I wouldn't install facebook, instagram and any of that crap - nevertheless I'm not telling anyone to not install them. Everyone have his own mind, and trying to limit free market is straight road to create even bigger issues.
 
Ha ha, next months will have a lot of complaining reports of how teens from US have to use VPN to run TikTok and learning about how an Orwellian 'democracy' looks like.
The US government might manage to increase the loading times!
I would never install Chinese software on my computer. Crazy to be that tiktok hasn't been banned already. Everything China does is suspect.
So let me summarize your mindset:
Step 1: Say China is bad
Step 2: Make conspiracy theories about software owned by Chinese corporations as a plot to spy on you
Step 3: Say that any software from China should be banned with no legitimate reason or proof other than "China bad."
Feel free not to use software from China if you want. But I don't see why other people shouldn't be able to just because of your personal preference.

And I'm interested to hear why the government of China would want to spy on you. Let's face it. No normal person has anything of value that a foreign government would want or need.
 
The company that currently owns tiktok also released a video editing software called "CapCut" for Windows. honestly at first I overlook this software because it's from china and they're not known for videography prowess. but one day I gave it a shot and it's actually much faster than whatever free video editing software you've seen (hitfilm express, resolve free, shotcut, openshot, etc) especialy at 4k60. it's so good that I'm surprised how well they've caught up silently.

so yeah you can ban them, but they'll keep catching up and when they do, it'll be a surprise.
 
That's how the US sees the "free market". It's only "free" as long as they're ahead, then, suddenly, when foreign rivals get ahead, it's sanctions and threats.
Oh the US is worried about what ? About all the shoit they're already on the record of doing worldwide ? Spying (even on their vassals, mind you), inducing malware... all sorts of rotten shoit.
 
I dont care about the chinese spying on my. I am not chinese, and I will never be going to china.

I DO care about the US government spying on me, and the hypocrisy of this decision. The US government demands data on its own citizens all the time. They are no better when it comes to security.

That security bill is an Orwellian censorship nightmare bill.
 
They can ban it, sell it, twist it, pull it, I dont care.

something else will just take its annoying spot, and whatever that thing is it'll be connected and also sending information somewhere, only reason the govt cares is because they're already spying on the lambs and don't want anyone else getting a peek.

I think tiktok is stupid as hell also, but like facebook and myspace before it, people CHOOSE to use these apps and reveal everything about themselves, the right move is to educate the masses on the positives and negs of social media, but the worst enemy to a govt is a lemming that can think, so that option is off the table to them.
 
I would not install that either, but I wouldn't install facebook, instagram and any of that crap - nevertheless I'm not telling anyone to not install them. Everyone have his own mind, and trying to limit free market is straight road to create even bigger issues.
Free market...from Communist China.
 
So it's free market only if follows our strict regulations and definitions? Lol;)
The last thing I want is to step on the toes of Western Communists and Neo-Marxists, so I shall correct my post: Totalitarian China.
 
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