The US government has asked China-based ByteDance to sell its shares in the popular TikTok app or face being banned in the US, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Western powers, including the European Union and the United States, are taking a firm stance on the application for fear of misuse of user data by Chinese officials, reports Al-Rai daily quoting AFP.

Concerns about Chinese espionage in the United States rose earlier this year after a Chinese balloon was shot down in US airspace. Last week, the White House welcomed a bill that would allow President Joe Biden to ban TikTok, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

Sullivan added that the bipartisan bill would empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services in a way that poses a risk to Americans’ sensitive data and to our national security.

Support for the bill in the Senate and the White House has boosted political momentum against TikTok, against which another bill is also being prepared in the House of Representatives.

Hardline anti-China bills are rare with bipartisan support in Congress, where Republicans dominate in the House of Representatives and Democrats in the Senate.

TikTok claims to have more than 1 billion users worldwide, including more than 100 million in the United States.

Activists consider the ban an attack on freedom of expression and stifle the export of American culture and values to TikTok users around the world.

And US government employees were banned in January from downloading the app on their phones.

According to the newspaper, the final warning to “Tik Tok” came from the US agency charged with assessing the risks posed by foreign investments to national security.

US officials, as well as TikTok, declined to comment on the report.

TikTok denies constantly sharing its data with the Chinese government, and says it has been cooperating with the United States for nearly two years to address its national security concerns.

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