TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed on Wednesday (July 29) that Chinese video-sharing app TikTok is currently being reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. (CFIUS) and that the agency would make a recommendation to President Trump later this week.
The Treasury-led interagency CFIUS looks at foreign investments in possible national security risks. “TikTok is under CFIUS review. We will be making a recommendation to the president this week so we have lots of alternatives,” Reuters quoted Mnuchin as saying.
CFIUS is currently reviewing the prior acquisition of TikTok precursor Musical.ly by the Chinese app’s parent company — ByteDance — for US$1 billion in 2017, according to CNBC. A TikTok representative said the company could not comment on the CFIUS investigation but that it was working to “develop a best-in-class security infrastructure” and promote a safe app experience, reported Reuters.
The committee can force ByteDance to back out of the deal or take other actions to reduce a perceived national security threat. Before leaving the White House for a trip to Texas, Trump said, “We are looking at TikTok.”
The popular video-sharing platform has been under fire recently over concerns it could be forced to hand user data over to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Staffers from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign were told this week to remove TikTok from their personal and work phones.
This decision follows earlier moves by the U.S. State Department, Department of Homeland Security, Army, and Navy to ban the Chinese app from government-issued devices. Meanwhile, the Democratic and Republican national committees have warned against using TikTok, according to the Verge.