Chinese Owner Denies Plans to Sell TikTok Amid US Ban Threat

Amid mounting speculation and the looming threat of a nationwide ban in the United States, ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, has categorically denied any intentions to sell the popular social media platform.

In its first official response to the escalating situation since President Joe Biden signed legislation that could pave the way for a ban on TikTok, ByteDance issued a statement refuting recent reports suggesting otherwise.

“Foreign media reports that ByteDance is exploring the sale of TikTok are untrue,” declared the Beijing-based company in a statement on Toutiao, a news aggregation app it owns.

ByteDance’s statement directly addressed an article by The Information claiming that the company was considering scenarios for selling TikTok’s US business without its proprietary recommendation algorithm. The article cited sources familiar with the deliberations.

This development comes as US lawmakers passed legislation as part of a broader foreign aid package, posing the most significant threat to TikTok since concerns over the app’s security first emerged in 2020. The legislation mandates that TikTok must find a new owner within a specified timeframe or face a complete ban in the United States, its largest market boasting 170 million users.

In response to the legislative push, TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to fight in court to remain operational in the US, assuring users that TikTok is here to stay.

Despite ByteDance’s denial of any plans to sell TikTok, concerns persist among US lawmakers regarding the app’s potential ties to the Chinese government and its handling of user data. While evidence supporting these concerns remains scant, TikTok’s status as a China-based company subjects it to a complex web of national intelligence and cybersecurity laws.

ByteDance’s legal obligations under China’s National Intelligence Law have raised apprehensions among policymakers, prompting calls for decisive action to safeguard national security interests. Notably, India banned TikTok entirely in 2020, citing similar concerns.

As the standoff between ByteDance and US authorities intensifies, the fate of TikTok hangs in the balance, highlighting the intricate interplay between geopolitical tensions, technology, and data privacy in the digital age.

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