TikTok is at risk of being banned in the U.S. if Chinese parent ByteDance won’t sell its stake. Millions of Americans who use the popular video app are left wondering what that means for them.
Some fans of the service may turn to virtual private networks (VPNs) to try and connect to TikTok should a ban take place, a workaround that can make it seem like their internet connection is coming from a different country. But that loophole may not be so easy to exploit.
It’s not an issue yet, as there are still some ways a TikTok ban could be avoided or accessed legally in the U.S. Here are the key things under consideration.
What a ban or forced sale could look like
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) is the interagency body evaluating national security concerns around the app to determine how to minimize risk if it continues to operate domestically. The group can recommend to President Joe Biden that ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly, a TikTok precursor, be unwound, forcing a sale of those assets.
TikTok has recommended a mitigation plan as an alternative to a forced sale. But that’s a longshot solution as CFIUS already threatened a ban if ByteDance won’t sell its stake.
A forced sale would be a complex step, requiring a years-old transaction to be unwound. The Trump administration pursued that route once before to no avail. The Chinese government would likely oppose it again, but it would need to be careful in its protests because the heart of its argument to the U.S. is that TikTok operates independently.