The U.S. government has opened a national security review into ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of popular short-form video app TikTok, according to multiple reports on Friday.
Reuters was the first outlet to report the news.
The review is focused on ByteDance’s billion-dollar acquisition of Musical.ly, a U.S. app that let users create karaoke videos, in 2017, according to Reuters. Musical.ly had about 60 million users at the time, according to The New York Times.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is investigating the deal on “potential national security risks,” Reuters reported. The companies did not seek regulatory clearance from the committee in 2017, allowing the committee to now go back and review the deal.
“While we 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. Part of that effort includes working with Congress and we are committed to doing so,” a TikTok spokesperson told Reuters.
Earlier this month, Sen. Tom Cotton and Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the Director of National Intelligence to look at security risks related to TikTok. The senators said they were also concerned with TikTok’s data collection policy and how Beijing-based ByteDance had censored content critical of the Chinese government on the app.
TikTok regularly sits atop Apple’s rankings of the most downloaded free apps. The app, which has become especially popular among Gen Z users, specializes in clips that are 15 seconds or less — an evolutionary step up from Vine’s six-second maximum length. Users can style their clips with a myriad of filters, including face filters similar to Instagram and Snapchat. Like Snapchat, videos are also shot vertically on TikTok.
TikTok was hit with a $5.7 million fine from the FTC earlier this year for failing to obtain parental consent of users under the age of 13, putting it in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,
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