TikTok faces US ban if Chinese owners do not sell

STORY: The Biden administration has threatened to ban TikTok if its Chinese owners do not sell their stake, the company told Reuters on Wednesday.

The ultimatum - first reported in the Wall Street Journal - comes amid fears that the app could pass U.S. user data to the Chinese government.

TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, has more than 100 million users in the U.S.

A TikTok spokesperson told Reuters that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States had demanded that the Chinese owners of the app sell their shares.

Sixty percent of ByteDance shares are owned by global investors, 20% by employees and 20% by its founders, according to the Journal.

TikTok, which rejects the spying allegations, says it has spent more than $1.5 billion on rigorous data security efforts.

On Wednesday, it added: "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."

Last week, the White House backed a bill that gives it new powers to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose a national security threat.

Biden's predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, tried to ban TikTok in 2020 but was blocked by the courts.

Another hurdle would be that any U.S. company buying TikTok would also require the approval of the Chinese government and it's not clear if that would be granted.

The White House declined to comment.