US authorities want to further investigate the Chinese video app TikTok because there are concerns about privacy and possible censorship of app content by China. As the news agency Reuters wants to have learned from anonymous sources, the acquisition of the predecessor App Musical.ly by the TikTok parent company ByteDance will be subjected to a test for the 'national security' of the United States.
Concerns about privacy and censorship
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is examining the 2017 acquisition, writes Reuters, There are concerns about the privacy of US user data that could potentially be accessed by Chinese authorities, as well as the possibility for the company to censor content in the app and determine what US users would see.
The karaoke app Musical.ly had been sold for $ 800 million in 2017 by its two Chinese founders to the Chinese media company ByteDance. Less than a year after the acquisition, the new owner closed the most popular with teenagers app and convicted all users in his competing product TikTok. In the deal at the time, ByteDance did not seek CFIUS approval, which now gives the committee the opportunity to investigate.
TikTok strives for trust
According to Reuters, the committee is already in talks with ByteDance, which is about taking steps that would allow ByteDance to avoid a possible cancellation of the purchase. Which accusations exactly the CFIUS raises, is confidential. A TikTok spokesman said that winning the trust of US users and government agencies has the highest priority for the company, and that they are also working with Congress on this issue.
As Reuters writes, last week two US senators called for such an investigation and registered concerns over TikTok's collection of US user data. In addition, the senators expressed the fear that Chinese censorship could provide content for US users. TikTok pointed out that data from US users of the app would be stored exclusively on servers in the US. The TikTok app is not available in China – for this market there is the counterpart "Douyin", which is subject to Chinese censorship rules.
Controversy over censorship and influence of China
The two senators said ByteDance was subject to Chinese legislation. On the other hand the manufacturer points outthat TikTok is operated entirely outside of China and is not subject to any foreign influence. TikTok has recently come under criticism for allegedly censoring images of protests in Hong Kong, which would be in China's political interest; the company denied Chinese influences. Also, according to a media report, at least in the past, there have been policies at TikTok that censor content related to homosexuality.
Only in May of this year, the CFIUS had subsequently contradicted the acquisition of the dating app Grindr by a Chinese company; by 2020, the deal must be reversed.
. (tagsToTranslate) CFIUS (t) National Security (t) Safety Check (t) TikTok (t) USA