On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered China-based ByteDance to divest the U.S. operations of its video-sharing app TikTok within 90 days, the latest effort to ramp up pressure on the company over U.S. national security concerns. “There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance… might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” Trump said in the order.
Trump’s latest move comes on top of an executive order he issued last week that would prohibit certain transactions with TikTok unless ByteDance divests it within 45 days. ByteDance is already in talks to sell the North America, Australia and New Zealand operations of TikTok to Microsoft.
The new order adds to pressure for ByteDance to divest TikTok, and legally buttresses the U.S. government’s crackdown on the Chinese-owned social media app. It authorizes U.S. officials to inspect TikTok and ByteDance’s books and information systems to ensure the safety of personal data while the sale talks are ongoing.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday the order also requires ByteDance to divest “any data obtained or derived from TikTok or Musical.ly users in the United States.” He said CFIUS “conducted an exhaustive review of the case and unanimously recommended this action to the president in order to protect U.S. users from exploitation of their personal data.”
Asked on Friday if he was concerned that the sweeping ban on WeChat could prevent Apple Inc from selling iPhones in China, Trump did not express worry. “I do what’s good in terms of the security of our country,” he told reporters.
MacDailyNews Take: So, barring any sale of TikTok to approved U.S.-based buyers, Trump’s deadline of 90 days starting August 14th is Thursday, November 12, 2020.
(UPDATE: 4:25pm EDT: Fixed end date. Thanks, Arty G.)