According to reports, the US government has stated that TikTok should be sold or face a possible ban in the country.
The video-sharing app, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, is accused of posing a national security risk by collecting data from millions of users.
TikTok confirmed to BBC News a request for a change in ownership, which was first reported in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
According to the company, a forced sale would not affect data flows or access.
The White House has yet to respond to a request for comment from BBC News.
For years, American officials have expressed concern that the popular app’s data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government.
According to the Wall Street Journal, US President Joe Biden’s administration wants ByteDance to divest itself of TikTok in order to establish a clear break with China.
The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which oversees national security risks, unanimously recommended that ByteDance divest from TikTok, according to the newspaper.
TikTok’s spokesperson said the company did not dispute the WSJ’s reporting and confirmed the company had been contacted by CFIUS.
The spokesperson, however, stated that the reporting was exaggerated and that it was unclear what “divestiture” meant in practice.
“If the goal is to protect national security, divestment does not solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.” According to the spokesperson.
“The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems”.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump threatened to impose a ban.
However, Mr. Biden’s administration has also expressed reservations about the social network.
TikTok, like Instagram and Twitter, collects massive amounts of data on its users.
It has access to location data and can collect biometric data from users. The information could be passed on to the Chinese government, which is feared.
TikTok claims to have begun an effort to relocate all US-based data to the US as part of Project Texas.
The company has told BBC News that it intends to proceed with the plan.
Is TikTok a cause for concern?
Canadian privacy authorities are looking into TikTok.
China responds to the United States’ ban on TikTok on federal devices.
The news comes just a week after new legislation was introduced in the Senate that would expand the president’s authority to ban TikTok across the country.
The Restrict Act would give the US Commerce Department the authority to declare foreign-linked companies to be national security risks.
TikTok is not allowed on government phones in the United States, Canada, or the European Union.
Shou Zi Chew, its CEO, is scheduled to testify before the US Congress next week in a highly anticipated showdown.