Trump Issues New Executive Order Demanding ByteDance Sell TikTok

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday issued an additional executive order directing Chinese company ByteDance to divest itself of short-form video app TikTok 90 days from the date of the order, or Sept. 29.  

The prior executive order issued Aug. 7 by the president did not mention the U.S. Treasury and would have demanded that app stores for Android and Apple iOS mobile devices stop distributing the TikTok app if ByteDance did not reach a deal to sell it in “45 days.” The new executive order adds more conditions for ByteDance to follow, but extends the amount of time the company has to find a suitable buyer for its U.S. operations.

The new order directs ByteDance to sell the company and to destroy U.S. user data collected following the divestment, reporting as needed (on a weekly basis, if necessary) to the U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

ByteDance issued the following statement Friday: “As we’ve said previously, TikTok 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.”

ByteDance has been in talks with Microsoft to buy TikTok operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand in a deal estimated to be worth $10B – $30B according to reports. ByteDance has also been in talks with Twitter to sell the short-form video app, according to reports.

As pointed out in previous coverage on the TikTok situation, the CFIUS path is likely the most effective, as it has been used in the past to force a Chinese company (Grindr) to divest itself of ownership in a U.S. operation.  For more insight on the process, check out How the U.S. Government Could Stop the Clock on TikTok and The Challenges of Banning TikTok When ‘Code is Free Speech.’

ByteDance continues to face challenges from governments throughout the world for its data collection practices and its alleged compliance with the Chinese Communist Party, but a recent evaluation by the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that  it could find “no evidence” that Chinese intelligence services have ever accessed data from TikTok, though its report concluded that “they could.”

Despite all the challenges the company faces in the U.S. and abroad, it continues to sign deals; on Aug. 12 it signed a three-year partnership deal with Major League Baseball team the New York Yankees and earlier in the month with video game trade and consumer events company gamescom, alongside YouTube and Twitch.

 

 

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