Trump Asks ByteDance to Divest US Operations of TikTok in 90 Days

ByteDance said Tik Tok is the “home for entertainment, self expression, and connection” for 100 million Americans.

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United States President Donald Trump on Friday, 14 August, asked ByteDance to divest the US operations of its video-sharing app TikTok within 90 days, reported Reuters.

“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.”
Donald Trump, according to Reuters.

The development comes only a little after an executive order by Trump prohibitting specific transactions with TikTok unless ByteDance divests it within 45 days.

The new move further adds pressure for ByteDance to divest TikTok, and legally strengthens the US government’s crackdown on the Chinese-owned app, reported Reuters.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF CFIUS IN THIS?

In 2019, according to Reuters, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) had opened new review of ByteDance's acquisation of Musical.ly in 2017 which had further led to the creation of TikTok. CFIUS is a US government panel, set up to review deals for any possible national security risks.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchint reportedly said that CFIUS had “conducted an exhaustive review of the case and unanimously recommended this action to the president in order to protect US users from exploitation of their personal data.”

Mnuchin also said that Trump's latest order required ByteDance to divest "any data obtained or derived from TikTok or Musical.ly users in the United States."

WHAT DID BYTEDANCE SAY IN RESPONSE?

According to Reuters, ByteDance had said on Friday that Tik Tok is used by 100 million Americans and that "it is their 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.”

WHAT DOES BYTEDANCE PLAN TO DO?

ByteDance is reportedly in talks with Microsoft Corp about selling North America, Australia and New Zealand operations of TikTok.

Trump, according to Reuters, has said he would support Microsoft's efforts to buy Tik Tok's American operations if the US government got a "substantial portion" of the proceeds. Trump, however, also stated that there are other potential buyers.

TRUMPS PLANS FOR OTHER CHINESE APPS

Trump has also issued an order to prohibit transactions which Chinese company Trencent Holding Ltd's WeChat.

These developments, according to Reuters, is part of Trump administration's bid to remove what it refers to as "untrusted" Chinese apps from the US digital networks.

APPLE INC'S CONCERNS

Apple Inc, among other US companies, has raised concerns about the potential negative ramifications on their firm of Trump administration's move on TikTok and WeChat.

Responding to concerns over the sweeping ban on WeChat impacting Apple Inc sales in China, Trump said:

“I do what’s good in terms of the security of our country,”

WHAT ABOUT TIKTOK BAN IN INDIA?

Meanwhile, speculations are rife that ByteDance may sell its India business to Reliance Jio amid uncertainties around its operations in India.

The Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), while announcing the ban on several Chinese apps including TikTok on 29 June, amid India's standoff with China at the LAC, had stated that the apps have “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”

(With inputs from Reuters)

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