Biden seeks TikTok divestment in conversation with Xi

US President Joe Biden has urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to change the ownership of TikTok, expressing concerns about national security and data security.

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During a recent phone call, President Joe Biden conveyed to Chinese President Xi Jinping the United States’ desire for TikTok to change ownership. This move comes as Congress deliberates on outlawing the app unless it severs ties with its Chinese proprietors. According to National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, Biden emphasised that the concern is not about banning TikTok outright but divesting ownership to safeguard national and data security interests.

Western authorities have expressed apprehension regarding TikTok’s popularity among young users, alleging its susceptibility to Beijing’s influence and its potential for propaganda. These allegations have been refuted by both the company and Beijing. Despite such concerns, the US House of Representatives recently passed a bill with an overwhelming majority, mandating TikTok’s separation from its Chinese parent company ByteDance or facing a nationwide prohibition.

President Biden’s backing of this bill is noteworthy, even though his election campaign leveraged TikTok as a tool to engage with young voters. However, the bill’s fate in the Senate remains uncertain, with some senators expressing reservations about the US government’s intervention in civil liberties and corporate ownership matters. The debate underscores the delicate balance between national security concerns and the principles of free enterprise and individual rights in the digital age.