Saturday, 10 April 2021

Forced sale of TikTok postponed indefinitely under Biden administration

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 11 February 21

Reports suggest that the government plan to force the sale of TikTok’s US operations to an American group including Oracle and Walmart have been ‘shelved’

The departure of Donald Trump from the US presidency appears to be the fix step towards the end of the bizarre TikTok saga which has been ongoing in the US since last year.  Back in August last year, President Trump in full swing against Chinese companies that his administration deemed a potential threat to national security…

The departure of Donald Trump from the US presidency appears to be the fix step towards the end of the bizarre TikTok saga which has been ongoing in the US since last year. 

Back in August last year, President Trump in full swing against Chinese companies that his administration deemed a potential threat to national security, including the hugely popular video-sharing app TikTok. He ordered that the app be banned in the US unless it was sold to a majority Us-owned group, a move formally ordered just days later by the Committee on Foreign Investment.

The move saw some accuse Trump of ‘gangster capitalism’, seemingly happy to take credit for setting up a potential $5 billion deal between TikTok’s owner ByteDance and a US group including Oracle and Walmart. 

However, ByteDance fought back through legal means, asking a federal court to overrule the order due to its arbitrary and capricious nature. By October, ByteDance was winning most of its legal challenges against the government, leaving any potential acquisition deal mired in uncertainty. 

Now, with new President Joe Biden at the helm it seems that the government’s interest in continuing to pursue this approach to TikTok is beginning to wane. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that efforts to push forward a deal have now been ‘shelved indefinitely’, with plans to reassess whether the divestment is necessary. 

That is not to say, however, that discussions surrounding TikTok’s potential threat to national security have disappeared. In fact, the National Security Council is continuing to assess the risks of various apps and software, especially as they relate to China. 

“We plan to develop a comprehensive approach to securing U.S. data that addresses the full range of threats we face,” said Emily Horne, a spokesperson for the National Security Council. “This includes the risk posed by Chinese apps and other software that operate in the U.S. In the coming months, we expect to review specific cases in light of a comprehensive understanding of the risks we face.”

 

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