The Biden administration is intensifying its pressure campaign against TikTok, warning of a potential U.S. ban on the app if the company doesn’t sever ties with its Chinese ownership. The U.S. government is once again seeking to separate the app from its Chinese owners, demanding the sale through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). However, TikTok has pushed back against the new White House demand, claiming that the proposed solution wouldn’t resolve the U.S. government’s concerns. TikTok’s proposed solution involves undergoing an audit by U.S.-based tech giant Oracle, among other measures and ensuring transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems.
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In an ongoing TikTok charm offensive in the U.S., the company has initiated Project Texas, which aims to depict its U.S. operations as transparent and accountable. This campaign includes around $1.5 billion in infrastructure spending and corporate re-organization to erect a firewall between the company’s U.S. business and its Chinese ownership. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew argued that Project Texas would place U.S. data beyond the reach of the Chinese government. However, he declined to answer if TikTok’s parent company ByteDance’s founders would be open to divesting.
The TikTok national security saga began during the Trump administration and Trump’s threats against the company eventually culminated in a plan to force TikTok to sell its U.S. operations to Oracle in late 2020. The deal was shelved indefinitely when the Biden administration took office, a result of changing White House priorities and successful court challenges by TikTok parent company ByteDance.