TikTok is looking for ways to break its ties with China amid increasing speculation over China being a national security threat from U.S. regulators and lawmakers, according to The Wall Street Journal.
TikTok is a video sharing app that has become extremely popular among younger generations. The app is the first Chinese social media application that has a serious presence in the United States.
U.S. regulators and lawmakers are concerned over China’s control over the app and if it poses a national security threat to the U.S. TikTok employees and advisers have been suggesting a possible rebranding of the company to senior executives.
ByteDance Ltd. is TikTok’s parent company and is based out of Beijing. “It is well-known that ByteDance was founded in China,” a ByteDance employee said. “But the reality is that the TikTok app does not operate in China, and we have been further building out and empowering teams in the markets where it does operate.”
The concern over TikTok’s headquarters is whether the Chinese government could demand information about the app’s users at any time. “The Chinese government has never asked us to provide access to any TikTok U.S. user data, and we would not do so if asked,” a ByteDance spokesman said.
“TikTok claims they don’t store American user data in China. That’s nice. But all it takes is one knock on the door of their parent company, based in China, from a Communist Party official for that data to be transferred to the Chinese government’s hands, whenever they need it,” Sen. Josh Hawley said.
TikTok is exploring ways to break ties with China over concern from U.S. lawmakers and regulators.