An executive order issued by Trump gives ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) until 12 November to sell off TikTok’s US operations or the app will be banned in the US. This is not the first time TikTok is up against a banhammer. India banned TikTok in June citing national security concerns.
Why is TikTok facing a ban in the US?
The Trump administration shares India’s concerns. They are concerned about TikTok’s handling of user data and ByteDance’s relationship with the Chinese Government.
This move comes amidst heightened China-US tensions. Trump’s attack on TikTok have been attributed to the deep-seated, unresolved disagreements between US and China over trade, industrial and cybersecurity policies. The ban on TikTok might just be the tip of the iceberg.
Reactions to the Executive Order
ByteDance has since threatened legal actions against the potential ban. China has also accused the US of “using state power to oppress non-American businesses” and regarded the move as “hegemonic practice”.
Hina Shamsi, director of ACLU’s National Security Project, feels that a ban does little to address privacy concerns.
Even TikTok’s competitors took a stance against the potential ban. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, worries that the move will set a dangerous precedent for app censorship in the future.
The Future of TikTok in the US
TikTok needs to find an American buyer to continue its operations in the US. Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle have since expressed their interest in acquiring TikTok.
Analysts suggest that the acquisition of TikTok would serve as a great leap forward for Microsoft. In recent years, Microsoft is known more for its corporate services rather than their consumer products. TikTok would serve to boost Microsoft’s presence in the consumer space.
Twitter made a case that they will face less regulatory scrutiny compared to Microsoft, and that they will not be subjected to any pressure from the Chinese government as they are not active in China. However, experts doubt Twitter has the capital to win the bid for TikTok.
Oracle appears to be giving Microsoft a run for their money. They are working with a group of US investors who already own a stake in ByteDance to rival Microsoft’s deal.
Oracle’s executives being political allies of Donald Trump is also an important factor to consider because the eventual acquisition of TikTok requires the approval of the US Government.