Over the weekend American president Donald Trump (somehow) gave TikTok a little extra time to sell itself off to an American company. The Trumpster said in a new executive order that the company has until 12 November — which is after the American elections this year — to comply with the initial demands made, also by executive order. He also imposed more conditions on the company, in line with the stance that TikTok is a threat to American national security.
Burn it down
The order, which states that there “…is credible evidence that leads me to believe that [TikTok owner] ByteDance…might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States…”, gives Bytedance 90 days to do the thing that’ll make the American president happy. This includes selling or splitting its business in the States, but also requires the destruction of a whole lot of data.
Specifically, Trump has ordered the destruction of all TikTok data pertaining to American users, both from TikTok and from the company’s acquisition of Musical.ly. Once that’s done, the company has to report as much to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. What the point of the information destruction is, isn’t certain at all but it might have an effect on the sale of TikTok to Microsoft (or to Twitter, which is reportedly also interested in the service). User data is valuable and being forced to kill off everything it has may drive the going price down.
We’ve seen similar action from Trump before. The initial ban on Huawei in the country played out the same way — the company was given a deadline, then a couple of extensions and then… Trump just kinda stopped talking about it. Didn’t stop extending the ban, however. Now, Huawei may be in serious trouble as the various business exemptions to the ban have expired. This means the company may be unable to provide further OS updates to Huawei phone owners who have handsets that still support Google Mobile Services.
It’s possible things will go the same way for ByteDance and TikTok — unless the company happens to find a buyer and close the deal in the next three months. What happens after the American elections in November, whether or not Trump wins another term as president, is something we’ll be watching with (serious) interest. It’s possible that the companies under fire by Trump’s executive orders are attempting to wait things out until he’s kicked out of office. If he’s given another four-year term, that’s going to make Huawei and co. very despondent indeed.
Source: via The Verge