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The US government is trying to force ByteDance to sell TikTok

TikTok could be banned in the United States if ByteDance refuses.

Dado Ruvic / reuters

The Biden Administration is significantly increasing pressure on ByteDance just days before TikTok’s CEO is set to testify in front of Congress. The United States government is now “demanding” that ByteDance sell TikTok, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.

The new demand, which TikTok confirmed to Reuters, is a major blow to the company, which has spent more than two years negotiating with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) over its future in the country. Those negotiations resulted in a sweeping partnership with Oracle and other measures meant to safeguard US users' data.

Now, CFIUS has reportedly told TikTok that it wants ByteDance to sell its stake in the company after all. If it doesn’t, the app could face a national ban. The House and the Senate have both recently introduced bills that would make it easier for government officials to ban TikTok and other services deemed to be a national security threat.

TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has previously stated that divesting from ByteDance wouldn’t address the government’s underlying concerns about data security. However, Bloomberg reported earlier in the week that TikTok executives were “discussing the possibility of separating from ByteDance” if the CFIUS talks were to fall through.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the United States government has tried to force ByteDance’s hand. Former President Donald Trump also attempted to compel TikTok to sell itself, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The latest threats of a total ban on the app are, however, sure to amp up pressure on TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, who is set to make his first Congressional appearance next week.