Reuters on Friday reports that the US government is beaming its security investigation on the acquisition of TikTok by Chinese company ByteDance Technology. TikTok, a social media app that attracts 26.5 million monthly active users in the US, was acquired by ByteDance for $1 billion.
Citing two people familiar with the matter, Reuters reports that TikTok is coming under security probe as there are fears that the Chinese company may be censoring politically sensitive content. There are also concerns about how the app stores users’ personal data.
The review of the acquisition is being carried out by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The committee, which is responsible for reviewing deals by foreign acquirers for potential security risks, is investigating TikTok because it did not seek clearance from CFIUS.
“By law, information filed with CFIUS may not be disclosed by CFIUS to the public,” said a spokeswoman for the US Treasury Department per Reuters. Treasury “does not comment on information relating to specific CFIUS cases, including whether or not certain parties have filed notices for review,” she added.
Though, the above statement did not confirm whether or not an investigation is being conducted, TikTok, however, gave us an indication that one [investigation] has actually being initiated.
“While we cannot comment on ongoing regulatory processes, TikTok has made clear that we have no higher priority than earning the trust of users and regulators in the U.S. Part of that effort includes working with Congress and we are committed to doing so,” a TikTok spokesperson said per Reuters.
In April this year, the TikTok app was taken down by the Play Store and the App Store in India. A court in India had ruled that the app was being used to promote child pornography in that country.
TikTok in a statement at the time said the court ruling would not affect its existing user base. New users, however, will not be able to download and install TikTok because of the court ruling.
The ruling issued by a court in southern Tamil Nadu state, asked authorities to ban TikTok because it encouraged pornography, warning that sexual predators could target child users. Acting upon the court ruling, the federal government in India requested that Apple and Google should both respect the court order, an IT ministry official said per Reuters.
TikTok topped the chart in the US App Store in the US when it surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat in terms of downloads. Sensor Tower stats per TechCrunch reported back in 2018 that installs from the App Store were higher than those of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube in the US in October. According to Sensor Tower, TikTok video app has been downloaded more than 230 million times in India.