U.S. Threatens Ban If TikTok’s Chinese Owners Don’t Sell Stakes

Videos by OutKick

Your days of mindless TikTok scrolling might be coming to an end.

The Biden Administration has demanded the popular app’s Chinese owners either sell their stake or face a possible ban in the United States, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The move stems from concerns that TikTok’s user data could be passed on to China’s government.

TikTok’s data collection methods include the ability to collect user contacts, access calendars, scan hard drives and geolocate devices on an hourly basis.

And according to a report from The Guardian, the TikTok app has the ability to monitor all keystrokes, text inputs and screen taps. This can include sensitive personal data, like credit card information and passwords.

“When opening a website from within the TikTok iOS app, they inject code that can observe every keyboard input,” software engineer Felix Krause wrote.

“There is no way for us to know the full details on what kind of data each in-app browser collects, or how — or if — the data is being transferred or used.”

(Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

But TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said simply forcing a sale won’t change that.

“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem,” she said. “A change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.”

Plus, a U.S. ban wouldn’t come without legal hurdles. The Trump administration wanted to ban TikTok in 2020 but was stopped by a series of court rulings.

Still, 27 states have already prohibited the use of TikTok on state devices. And in December, Biden approved a bill preventing federal employees from using TikTok on government devices.

TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew is due to appear before Congress next week.

TikTok has been accused of aggressive data harvesting.

Chinese multinational Internet company ByteDance — headquartered in Beijing — owns the wildly popular app.

But the excessive collection of data isn’t the only complaint against the company. Various leaks suggested it censors material that does not align with Chinese foreign policy aims or mentions the country’s human rights record.

The company called these claims “misinformation.”

Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

ByteDance has denied a connection to the Chinese government in the past. But under its national security laws, Chinese companies are required to share access to data they collect. That is, if the government requests it.

TikTok said it has spent more than $1.5 billion on rigorous data security efforts and rejects spying allegations.

Still, if you’re worried about it, the safest solution probably is to just not have the app at all.

Unless you just desperately need content like this.

Written by Amber Harding

Amber is a Midwestern transplant living in Murfreesboro, TN. She spends most of her time taking pictures of her dog, explaining why real-life situations are exactly like "this one time on South Park," and being disappointed by the Tennessee Volunteers.

Leave a Reply