TikTok must be sold or blocked in the United States due to national security concerns, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday in the latest ominous U.S. warning to the China-owned app.
TikTok, he said, “just cannot exist as it is.”
Mnuchin did not directly comment on President Donald Trump’s threat on Friday to ban the hugely popular video-sharing app.
The secretary recalled that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States – which he chairs – is reviewing TikTok, which is particularly popular with the young audience who create and watch its short videos and have around one billion users worldwide.
But on one of the many fronts in US-China relations that have turned virtually toxic these days, US officials have said it could be a tool for Chinese intelligence. TikTok denies such a suggestion.
“I will say publicly that the entire committee agrees that TikTok cannot stay in the current format because it risks returning information on 100 million Americans,” Mnuchin said on ABC Sunday.
Mnuchin said he spoke with Congressional leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Senior Democrat Chuck Schumer about what to do with TikTok’s operations in the United States. .
“We agree that there has to be a change. Force a sale or block the app. Everyone agrees that it cannot exist as it exists, ”Mnuchin said.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that negotiations for Microsoft to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, are on hold after Trump threatened to ban the app.
TikTok defended itself on Saturday, with its managing director for the United States, Vanessa Pappas, telling users that the company was working hard to give them “the safest app,” amid U.S. concerns over the safety of users. data.
“We don’t plan on going anywhere,” Pappas said in a post on the app.
© 2020 AFP