The demand, confirmed by TikTok late Wednesday, marks the latest escalation in U.S. governmental pressure on the app over potential security risks that critics have raised based on its ties to China.
It comes after a string of proposals emerging in Congress that target TikTok to varying degrees, and after a successful bid to ban TikTok on federal government devices passed last year.
The latest news also comes ahead of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s scheduled testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week.
Chew said divesting wouldn’t solve any security concerns and that he company has doubled down on its ongoing plans to monitor and separately store data from U.S. users.
“Divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” Chew said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Chew declined to comment on whether ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, would be open to selling the app to a U.S. company. Others questioned how likely a divesture is.
Hannah Kelley, a research assistant in the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security, said she doesn’t believe that ByteDance will agree to divest from TikTok.
“This has been the sticking point in CFIUS negotiations for over two years now—how to mitigate the identified U.S. national security concerns, especially regarding data flows and access, short of full divestment,” Kelley said, referring to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a federal inter-agency panel.
We’ll have more on the potential impacts of a TikTok ban at TheHill.com.