Officials for the Biden administration have demanded that the Chinese internet company ByteDance sell TikTok amid ongoing U.S. security concerns.
According to a report in The Information, the US is prepared to ban the TikTok app if the Chinese fail to comply.
U.S. officials have expressed concern about national security issues revolving around China’s government controlling an app that tens of millions of Americans have on their phones and computers.
China’s massive internet company, ByteDance, has been negotiating with federal officials since the Trump administration, hoping to retain ownership of TikTok, which generates an estimated $10 billion per year.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration already had told TikTok and ByteDance to cut ties or lose the U.S. market. The Journal reported that this could rekindle interest from Microsoft and other companies that previously tried to buy the app from ByteDance in 2020.
Officials in both the Trump and Biden administrations expressed concerns that the Chinese government can use the app to influence 10s of millions of Americans, and also use it to mine information about American users.
While ByteDance representatives have tried to convince federal officials that it lets TikTok operate independently, that campaign does not seem to be working. The Information reported that the Chinese government is woven into the corporate structure of ByteDance, and can influence any of its operations.
Citing a source connected to the Biden administration, The Information reported that the new chief of TikTok’s foray into e-commerce in the U.S. answers directly to a boss at ByteDance, bypassing TikTok’s own CEO.
With most of its revenue stemming from consumer apps in China, ByteDance was estimated to be worth around $200 billion, according to sales of company shares between investors.