But TikTok has been an exception. Republicans’ and Democrats’ willingness to offer legislation is a measure of the U.S. concern about China and TikTok.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in July 2020 prohibiting TikTok from the U.S. market along with WeChat, another popular Chinese-owned messaging app, because the apps “threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” Trump approved a deal a few months later that created a separate U.S. entity called TikTok Global in which software maker Oracle Corp. and retailer Walmart Inc. would own 20 percent of the equity.
That deal also required TikTok to submit a proposal to the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, on how it would collect Americans’ data, where it would be housed, and what its security protocols were. The company says it hasn’t heard from CFIUS since it submitted the proposal in summer 2022.
The administration, which is reportedly considering whether to force a sale of the U.S. unit of TikTok, faces two risks. West, at Brookings, said it won’t be easy to find an American buyer for a company valued at about $50 billion and Beijing could retaliate against U.S. companies such as Tesla Inc., Apple Inc. and others that have manufacturing facilities in China.
The U.S., the U.K., Canada, the European Union and India have banned TikTok on government-issued devices. More than two dozen U.S. states also have banned the app on state-issued devices.