TikTok is under intense scrutiny over user safety and whether the app poses a national security risk. CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before Congress next week.
TikTok is facing a direct challenge to its continued operations in the US. The Biden administration is reportedly demanding that TikTok be sold off from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, or face a potential ban. The demand was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and later by The New York Times.
The White House’s threat is an escalation from the limited bans and pending legislation that have been bubbling up for some time. In late February, the Biden administration said federal agencies would have 30 days to remove TikTok from government devices, and similar restrictions have spread across dozens of US states.
A bill introduced earlier this month would give the secretary of Commerce the ability to prohibit foreign companies from operating in the US if there are national security threats — a key reason some elected officials have said TikTok should be banned. TikTok has said user data is not stored in China and has proposed a deal with the US government that would wall off US operations from ByteDance to mitigate their concerns. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that negotiations between TikTok and Washington had stalled and the future of the deal seemed uncertain.
TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.
The pressure from the White House is coming as TikTok prepares to answer questions about its operations and relationship with the Chinese government. CEO Shou Zi Chew is slated to testify before a Congressional committee next week.
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