WASHINGTON – The U.S. government has launched a national security review of a Chinese company’s acquisition of the American company that has now become TikTok, sources tell The New York Times , Reuters and other news outlets .
A company based in Beijing, ByteDance, acquired the app Musical.ly for around $1 billion in 2017 and merged it with its similar service, TikTok, less than a year later. It’s now one of the most downloaded apps in America, increasingly popular with teens and young adults.
Recently, U.S. lawmakers have raised concerns about TikTok’s growing influence in the country. Reuters reports that some legislators are worried that the company may be censoring politically sensitive content and they’re raising concerns about how the app stores personal data.
One source told The Times that the U.S. government had evidence of the app sending data to China.
Now, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is reportedly reviewing the 2-year-old deal. People familiar with the review told Reuters that TikTok didn’t seek clearance from the committee during the acquisition, which gives the CFIUS scope to investigate it now.
A ByteDance spokesman said in an email to The Times that they cannot comment on ongoing regulatory processes.
“TikTok has made clear that we have no higher priority than earning the trust of users and regulators in the U.S.,” said the spokesman. “Part of that effort includes working with Congress, and we are committed to doing so.”