The TikTok saga continues in the US, with Donny Trump expressing a lack of enthusiasm over the prospect of American tech company Oracle taking over the popular video app (or at least part of it). Details of Oracle’s bid are expected any time now, but Trump has already poured cold water on the idea.
“I’m not prepared to sign off on anything. I have to see the deal,” Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday.“It has to be 100 percent as far as national security is concerned.”
Trump, along with many others in Washington, maintains that TikTok represents a threat to US national security. The argument is that ByteDance has a sort of 2 way radio going with the Chinese Communist Party, collecting data from American TikTok users (there are reportedly 100 million of them) and then handing it over to Beijing.
ByteDance denies that such a relationship exists but, needless to say, Washington isn’t convinced. In August Trump has announced that he will ban the app in the US unless ByteDance sells it to an American company. In addition to the privacy concerns, Trump alleged that TikTok “censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive.” It also serves as a platform for political disinformation, he charged.
At first it appeared that Microsoft would save the day, but talks with ByteDance fell through, opening the door for Oracle.
The word now is that Oracle is seeking a minority stake in the Chinese company, rather than taking it over completely. AP reports that, according to the terms of this deal, ByteDance would give control of user data to Oracle and allow the US corporation to review—but not author—code and updates.
Trump stated he would be against such a deal.
“Conceptually, I can tell you I don’t like that,” he said. “If that’s the case, I’m not going to be happy with that.”
Trump was apparently hoping the US government would get a piece of the deal, and was distraught to be told otherwise.
“Amazingly, I find that you’re not allowed to do that,” he told reporters. “If they’re willing to make big payments to the government they’re not allowed because … there’s no legal path to doing that. How foolish can we be?”
The deadline for a deal is 20 September. Whether or not that can be extended is unclear.