According to two persons familiar with the matter, the government of the United States launched a national security review of Beijing-based TikTok owner ByteDance’s one-billion-dollar acquisition of the United States social media app Musical.ly. However, the $1 billion acquisition finalized two years back, lawmakers of the United States called for a national security investigation into TikTok in recent weeks, concerned the Chinese firm may be censoring politically sensitive material as well as raising questions that how it saves personal data.
TikTok is becoming more popular among the teenagers of the United States at a time when the tensions over trade & technology transfers arise between the U.S. and China. Earlier this year, the firm said that around 60% of 26.5 million monthly active users of TikTok in the United States have ages between 16 and 24. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which reviews agreements by overseas acquirers for potential national security risks, begin to review the deal of Musical.ly, according to sources. TikTok did not pursue clearance from CFIUS when it attained Musical.ly, which gives the United States security panel scope to inspect it now.
CFIUS in Talks with TikTok on the Matter
CFIUS is in dialogues with TikTok regarding measures it might take to avoid robbing the assets of Musical.ly it acquired. Particulars of that particular conversation referred to by CFIUS as vindication might not learn. The particular concerns that CFIUS could also not learned. A spokesman of TikTok said that as they cannot give remarks on ongoing regulatory processes, TikTok made clear that they have no any other priority than gaining the trust of its users along with regulators in the United States Part of that struggle includes working with Congress, and they committed to doing so. While ByteDance did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Also, the Treasury Department of the United States, which chairs CFIUS, did not reply instantly for comment.
The previous week, Chuck Schumer, the United States Senate Minority Leader, and Senator Tom Cotton requested a national security probe. They argued that they were worried about the collection of user data of the video-sharing platform and whether Beijing censors content seen by the users of the United States. Moreover, they suggested TikTok might target influence campaigns from foreign. Cotton and Schumer wrote to acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Macguire, that with more than 110 million app downloads in the United States alone, TikTok is a potential threat of counterintelligence they can’t ignore.
TikTok allows its users to make and share short videos with built-in special effects. The firm said user data of United States saved in the U.S., whereas the senators noted that ByteDance governed under the laws of China. Furthermore, TikTok said that the government of China does not have influence over the app’s content, which does not operate in China as well as not the jurisdiction of any other foreign government.
Musical.ly founder reported ByteDance CEO
One of the sources said that Alex Zhu, the founder of Musical.ly (currently heads the TikTok team), started to report straight to Zhang Yiming, the CEO of ByteDance. Previously, he reported to Zhang Nan, the head of ByteDance’s Douyin, a short video app of China. In October, Marco Rubio, the United States senator, asked CFIUS to review ByteDance’s purchase of Musical.ly. He raised questions about why TikTok had only had limited videos of the protests of the Hong Kong that leading international headlines for months. CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, also criticized TikTok over censorship concerns. The U.S. is increasingly examining app developers over the protection of personal information they handle, especially if some of it involves United States military or intelligence personnel.