TikTok dismisses call for Chinese owners to sell their stakes or face U.S. ban


TikTok late Wednesday dismissed a report that the Biden administration has told its Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the popular video-sharing app or face a ban in the U.S.

Earlier Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. have recently demanded the divesture by Beijing-based ByteDance Inc. on national-security grounds.

“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 said in a statement Wednesday night. “The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing.”

Last week, Biden and a dozen senators from both sides of the aisle backed a bill that would allow the U.S. commerce secretary to block foreign technologies like TikTok.

TikTok executives have said about 60% of ByteDance shares are owned by investors, 20% by employees and 20% by its founders, who hold outsize voting rights.

Many U.S. officials worry the Chinese government could access data from American users. TikTok has reportedly spent about $1.5 billion to safeguard data by using U.S.-based data centers and Oracle Corp.