The Committee on Foreign Investment, part of the US Treasury Department, has reportedly threatened to ban TikTok in the United States, unless its owner, Beijing-based ByteDance, divests itself of the popular video-sharing app.
TikTok's response to that intimidation on Wednesday serves to expose the nature of the threat as nothing but barefaced robbery.
"If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn't solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access," TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan said. "The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing."
Despite having TikTok in its sights for more than three years, the US side has not yet been able to provide any substantial evidence to prove the app is a security risk.
Nevertheless, late last month, the White House gave all federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok off all government devices, which is what the Office of Management and Budget called a "critical step forward in addressing the risks presented by the app to sensitive government data".
That followed after Congress passed the "No TikTok on Government Devices Act" in December as part of a sweeping government funding package, although the legislation does allow for the use of TikTok in certain cases, including for national security, law enforcement and research purposes.
Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, who has been a vocal critic of the app, has even likened it to "a spy balloon "that China was sending to the phones of US users. Which is simply a crooked smear based on the artificially fabricated "Chinese spy balloon" threat that gripped the US recently.
It is the relentless eavesdropping of the US government, carried out with the complicity of big US internet companies, that has created an atmosphere favorable for the spread of such crazy and hysterical views.
That both the Treasury Department and the White House's National Security Council have declined to comment on the company's to-the-point response further belies the hollowness of the "national security" concerns, which is only an excuse for the Joe Biden administration to weaponize the concept in order to disguise the egregious nature of its smash-and-grab raid of leading foreign companies.
It is predictable that the House of Representatives and Senate will continue to press ahead with relevant legislation to give the Biden administration more power to clamp down on TikTok until it is controlled by the US. Then Washington will no doubt turn its sights on another company.