Steven Mnuchin and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Steven Mnuchin and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • The US Treasury is investigating social video app TikTok over national security concerns, Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed Wednesday.

  • Specifically, the Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) is looking into the acquisition of Musical.ly, a startup acquired in 2017 by Bytedance — TikTok’s China-based parent company.

  • “We are looking at TikTok,” President Donald Trump told the press. “We are thinking about making a decision.”

  • The news comes as TikTok’s China ties come under scrutiny amid tensions between the country and the United States. 

  • Lawmakers are rattled by the possibility that American user data is available to the Chinese government, and the US is considering banning the app altogether.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Treasury is investigating the popular video-sharing app TikTok over national security concerns, Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed Wednesday.

Per CNBC, the app is being reviewed by the Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), which is apparently looking into the acquisition of Musical.ly — a startup purchased in 2017 by Bytedance, TikTok’s China-based parent company. 

The news comes as TikTok remains one of the handful of China-linked tech firms at the center of strained US-China relations. US lawmakers are wary of the possibility that the Chinese government might have access to American user data via the app. 

The House of Representatives has already voted to ban the app from all federally-issued devices, and presidential hopeful Joe Biden recently reportedly told staff to “refrain from using and downloading TikTok” over security and privacy concerns. The US is considering banning the video-sharing app altogether.

“We are looking at TikTok,” President Donald Trump told the press on Wednesday, according to CNBC. “We are thinking about making a decision.”

Other options that could successfully distance the app from its roots in China would be for TikTok to spin out of Bytedance and stand as its own independent US firm, as White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested in early July.

Another idea being floated is US that Bytedance investors, which could include Sequoia Capital, could buy a majority stake in TikTok. Per a Reuters report Wednesday, the investors involved in that potential deal are valuing TikTok at $50 billion.

News of this investigation comes as the CEOs Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon stand at a Congressional hearing on tech antitrust on Wednesday, in which TikTok and its China ties are expected to come up. Ahead of that hearing, new TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer published a blog post committing the company to transparency, and suggesting that Americans have nothing to fear from the app. 

“TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy,” Mayer wrote.

TikTok was not immediately available for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Source News