Trump gives ByteDance 90-day deadline to sell TikTok's US business
Delivering his latest salvo against Beijing, US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order giving ByteDance a 90-day deadline to divest the US operations of TikTok, its video-sharing service. The action comes on top of another order issued last week and adds pressure on the Chinese giant to sell off TikTok to ensure its survival in the US. Here's all about it.
For months, both TikTok and its parent company ByteDance have been answering questions regarding their data privacy and security practices. The White House worries that the personal data of Americans collected by TikTok through its application could be shared with China's communist government and pose a threat to the national security of the US.
Owing to these concerns, Trump has been building pressure on ByteDance to push the company to sell TikTok's US business (and data) to an American company. Originally, he threatened to ban the service completely, but when Microsoft expressed interest in buying TikTok's US (and a few other regions') operations, he agreed for a September 15 deadline to complete the discussions for a potential acquisition.
As Microsoft proceeded with acquisition talks with ByteDance, Trump signed an executive order banning all "business transactions" with the Chinese company. The order is slated to go into effect from September 20, just after the agreed September 15 deadline. A similar order was also issued for WeChat, the messaging product operated by Tencent, another major Chinese giant.
Mere days after that first EO, Trump has issued the latest one, ordering ByteDance to divest TikTok's US assets within 90 days. This means ByteDance will be able to sell TikTok US to Microsoft or some other company by November 12, but all other transactions between American entities/people and ByteDance will be blocked starting September 20. If not sold, TikTok will also be blocked.
"There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the US," Trump said in the new order, which was signed after an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US. To recall, in the previous order, he said that ByteDance might be using TikTok for disinformation campaigns benefitting China.
Along with the divestment of TikTok's US assets in 90 days, the latest order signed by Trump also requires ByteDance to delete any data related to American TikTok and Musical.ly (which was merged with TikTok) users from its servers. It also authorizes US officials to conduct an audit of TikTok and ByteDance's books and systems to ensure this action has been taken.
In response to the latest order, TikTok said its service "is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection. We're committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come." Previously, it has refuted the allegations of sharing data with the Chinese government.