TikTok says the Trump administration has gone quiet on whether it will allow the sale of its US operations to Oracle and Walmart.
The made-in-China social network on Tuesday filed with the with the US Court of Appeals to request [PDF] for an extension of its negotiations with the US government ahead of the Wednesday November 12th deadline on which the service will not be allowed to operate in the USA.
Which is just a wee bit farcical given that the Trump administration declared TikTok a national security threat but was willing to let it keep operating in the USA if it could find local buyers and operators and satisfy the government it had put in place security schemes that prevented data reaching China.
Oracle, Walmart and other investors duly put up their hands and plenty of cash to buy TikTok. The USA’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was given the job of making sure the deal was to the government’s liking.
But TikTok says it hasn’t heard from CFIUS in weeks.
In a widely-shared statement TikTok said: “In the nearly two months since the President gave his preliminary approval to our proposal to satisfy those concerns, we have offered detailed solutions to finalize that agreement – but have received no substantive feedback on our extensive data privacy and security framework.”
The statement says that TikTok therefore had no choice but to file for the extension, because not doing so would imperil the very sale that the government insisted must take place.
Even if CFIUS signs off on the deal, China is yet to do likewise under new laws that prohibit export of AI-infused technologies like the algorithm that makes TikTok hum. It is unclear if Beijing will approve the deal, as while it desires the soft-power win of a Chinese app enjoying success in the West it could find myriad reasons to prohibit the sale, among them making TikTok a problem for the incoming Biden administration to solve as part of its planned reset of Sino-American relations. ®