The U.S. government has opened a national security review of its acquisition of a Chinese company, according to people familiar with the matter. It bought the American company that became TikTok, a popular short video app.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in The United States is a panel of The federal government that reviews Foreign takeovers of American companies for national security reasons. The committee is now reviewing the two-year-old deal after lawmakers raised concerns about TikTok's growing influence in the us, according to people familiar with the matter. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential. One person said the us government had evidence that the app had sent data to China.
外国在美投资委员会(The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States)是联邦政府的一个专门小组，就国家安全审查外资收购美国公司的交易。知情人士表示，国会议员对TikTok在美国的影响力日益增长表示担忧后，该委员会目前正在审核这笔两年前的交易。因为调查是保密的，这些知情人士要求不具名。其中一人透露，美国政府已掌握了该应用程序向中国发送数据的证据。
It is the latest confrontation between the us and China, which are embroiled in a global race for technological dominance that has begun to divide the high-tech world in half, sparking talk of a new cold war among some analysts.
Bytedance, which was founded seven years ago in Beijing, acquired musical. ly in November 2017 for $800 million to $1 billion. At the time, musical. ly was a popular teen karaoke video app with about 60 million users in the United States and Europe. Bytedance said at the time of the acquisition that it would keep musical. ly outside its Chinese app family. Less than a year later, bytedance incorporated musical. ly into its own similar service called TikTok, resulting in one of the world's fastest-growing applications and a global cultural phenomenon.
The TikTok app has been downloaded more than 750 million times in the past 12 months, more than Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, according to research firm Sensor Tower.
While we cannot comment on the ongoing regulatory process, TikTok has made it clear that our priority is to win the trust of American users and regulators, a bytejump spokesman said in an email. "Part of that effort includes working with congress, and we are committed to doing so." He added that TikTok would not send any user data to China.
Reuters earlier reported on the review of musical. ly by the federal commission, known as CFIUS.
China bans many foreign companies from openly appearing on its domestic network, but Chinese companies that develop cutting-edge technology products are becoming increasingly popular around the world. Many lawmakers and trump administration officials see the trend as a threat to the national security and economy of the United States, and they have put up numerous barriers to prevent Chinese companies from gaining access to American data and technology.
The trump administration has blocked the singapore-based Broadcom from acquiring the us chipmaker Qualcomm and blocked deals such as ant financial's takeover of Moneygram.
President trump has also blacklisted Chinese technology companies like huawei from buying American products on national security and human rights grounds. He also imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion worth of Chinese goods in a trade war that is at least partly a response to Chinese theft of American intellectual property.
U.S. government officials are particularly concerned about the impact of China's 2017 national security law. The law contains broad language requiring companies to cooperate with the government's intelligence-gathering efforts if requested. Chinese officials have disputed those claims, saying companies should abide by local laws when operating overseas.
Users create and share short, creative videos and bizarre memes on TikTok, a platform where endless strings of short videos are called "the last sunny corner of the Internet." The vast majority of videos on the service come from western users, largely because it is not available in mainland China, where bytedance offers a highly similar service called douyin.
But TikTok's ties to China and its growing popularity in the U.S. have raised new concerns in Washington. As news reports pointed out, there was little sign of protests in Hong Kong on the app, and TikTok's content moderators were reportedly instructed to censor video on a number of political subjects.
Bytedance said it had not been ordered by the Chinese government to censor content on TikTok. TikTok's content policy is the responsibility of a team in the U.S. and is not influenced by any government, a company spokesman said.
To be clear: we will not delete video because of the content of the Hong Kong protest, a bytedance spokesman said.
A former content auditor at TikTok said in an interview that American officials had instructed censors to hide videos that contained any political messages or themes, not just those related to China. The auditor asked not to be named because he was looking for a job in the tech industry and did not want to speak publicly about his former employer.
The company's policy, he said, is to allow such political BBBS to remain on users' profile pages, but not on TikTok's main video list, which could be Shared more widely. He also said that while auditors were required to censor indecent content, such as video showing scantily clad women in Muslim countries, he had never received specific instructions to censor content related to China.
A bytedance spokeswoman said the company recently changed its policy on limiting political BBBS, saying the previous rules were a blunt way to keep the app fun.
Last month, senator Marco Rubio, republican of Florida, who heads CFIUS, wrote to Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin urging him to conduct a national security review of bytedance's purchase of Muscial.
上个月，佛罗里达州共和党参议员马尔科·卢比奥(Marco Rubio)致信财政部长史蒂文·姆努钦(Steven Mnuchin)，敦促他对字节跳动收购Muscial.ly的交易进行国家安全审查，姆努钦是CFIUS的负责人。
There has been growing evidence that the TikTok platform is censoring content that is inconsistent with the instructions of the Chinese government and the communist party in western markets, including the U.S. market, Mr. Rubio wrote.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, democrat of New York, said the security review "confirms our concern that applications like TikTok -- which store vast amounts of personal data accessible to foreign governments -- could pose serious risks to millions of americans."
Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, said new guidelines on personal data passed by congress last year made it clear that CFIUS should review the deal. He said the companies will likely have to take steps to convince the government that U.S. data is safe.
保守派智库美国企业研究所(American Enterprise Institute)的驻所学者史剑道(Derek Scissors)说，美国国会去年通过的有关个人数据新的指导方针已明确表明，CFIUS应该对这笔交易进行审查。他说，这些公司很可能不得不采取措施，让政府相信美国的数据是安全的。
It's a big deal, it's a technology deal, and it does involve us users transferring data to a Chinese company, Mr Scissors said. "I don't see how they got away with a deal that didn't require some sort of mitigation."
A bytedance spokeswoman said the company hired a Colorado consulting firm called Special Counsel to analyze the app to see where it sends user data.
Data about TikTok users, including their video, name, birth date and other information, is stored only on servers in Virginia and Singapore, said Douglas Brush, who oversees analysis at Special Counsel. He added that the analysis, which included interviews with TikTok employees and a review of the application's computer source code, was done between July and October, and that his team did not find any possible way TikTok could have sent the data to China during those months.
在Special Counsel负责分析工作的道格拉斯·布拉什(Douglas Brush)说，有关TikTok用户的数据，包括他们的视频、姓名、出生日期和其他信息，只存储在位于弗吉尼亚州和新加坡的服务器上。他补充说，分析是在7月至10月做的，其中包括与TikTok员工的面谈，以及审查该应用程序的计算机源代码，他的团队在分析中没有发现TikTok在这几个月里将数据发送到中国的任何可能方法。
Faced with increasing scrutiny, bytedance is trying to build relationships in Washington. TikTok has joined NetChoice, an industry association that has actively fought back against criticism of technology companies. This summer, a bytedance employee registered to lobby for the company. It also hired a powerful corporate law firm, Covington & Burling, whose clients include Facebook, among others.
面临日益严格的审查，字节跳动试图在华盛顿建立关系。TikTok已加入了行业协会NetChoice，该协会一直在积极回击对科技公司的批评。今年夏天，字节跳动的一名员工为给公司从事游说活动进行了注册。该公司还聘请了实力强大的企业律所科文顿(Covington & Burling)，该律所的客户包括Facebook等。
Bytedance spent a total of $120,000 on federal lobbying activities last quarter, according to a public disclosure document released last week.
TikTok announced last month that it was working with law firm K&L Gates on vetting policies for the platform and had joined a nonprofit group focused on children's online safety. In February, bytedance agreed to pay a $5.7 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission for settling charges that musical. ly illegally collected information about users under the age of 13.
TikTok上个月宣布，它正在与高盖茨律师事务所(K&L Gates)就平台的审核政策问题一起展开工作，并加入了一个关注儿童网络安全的非盈利组织。今年2月，字节跳动同意向联邦贸易委员会(Federal Trade Commission)支付570万美元罚款，以了结对Musical.ly非法收集13岁以下用户信息的指控。
We're just getting started, Bart Gordon, a partner at the law firm high gates who works with TikTok, said Friday.