I’ve written about the dangers of TikTok to American children’s safety and to US security before. For two years, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US has been dickering with TikTok about ways to wall the app off from the government of the People’s Republic of China as a criterion for TikTok’s continued operation in the US.
Of course, a wall-off has no hope of success: its owner, ByteDance, would remain a PRC company and so wholly responsible to the PRC government’s intelligence community to commit espionage on demand. With TikTok still owned by ByteDance, any firewall must necessarily fail in the face of any PRC intel demand.
As a result of that, some members of CFIUS, in particular, DoD and DoJ folks, are becoming more interested in requiring TikTok be spun off by ByteDance into a separate entity. It’s an interesting idea; although I wonder about remaining sub rosa connections in the form of ByteDance-affiliated persons remaining in TikTok’s management structure, along with the risk of allegedly ex-ByteDance persons still in TikTok’s management.
Treasury has its own concerns regarding a forced sale.
[T]he Treasury Department, which chairs the panel [CFIUS], is worried that such an order might be overturned in court, and is looking for other possible solutions, according to a person familiar with that department’s thinking.
Treasury’s concern is easily enough preempted, along with my concern about ByteDance-related persons in TikTok employ: ban TikTok altogether from the US.