According to reports by Bloomberg and Reuters, the U.S. government is expanding its technology war with Chinese companies and has opened a national security investigation into Chinese technology company ByteDance, which owns the TikTok social video platform.
According to Reuters the action by the U.S. government is another sign that the Trump administration continues to see China as a technology competitor and is trying to stop China’s technology advances at the same time it is attempting to negotiate a trade deal with the “middle-kingdom.”
The U.S. governments Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is reviewing ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly, a U.S.-based app that was rebranded into TikTok. U.S. senators raised concerns about TikTok in a letter to the acting director of national intelligence and said they are worried Chinese law could force TikTok to hand over data on U.S. users to the Chinese government and that the company may censor videos that criticize China.
In response to U.S. government concerns, TikTok said on its company blog that it stores its data on U.S. servers with backups in Singapore, and that its offshore data isn’t subject to Chinese law. The company also said that it doesn’t remove content based on China government sensitivities.
Some U.S. senators had also raised an issue of TikTok censoring or removing videos in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, but report by BuzzFeed News found no evidence of this.
A spokesperson for TikTok said that, “TikTok has made clear that we have no higher priority than earning the trust of users and regulators in the US. Part of that effort includes working with Congress and we are committed to doing so.”