Bytdance, which owns TickTock, is facing a September 15 deadline for the Chinese company to sell its US operations or the Trump administration has shut them down. On Thursday evening, President Trump told reporters that the deadline would not be withdrawn.
“We will either discontinue TikTok in this country for security reasons, or it will be sold,” Trump said just before he flew to Michigan. “I am not extending the deadline. No. It is September 15. There will be no extension of the Tiktok deadline.”
Reports indicate that both Microsoft and Oracle have proposed for US operations of ByteDance. The problem is that companies cannot accept the conflicting demands of the US and Chinese governments.
In early August, Trump declared Tickcock a national security threat because of the Chinese government’s ability to collect data on American users and carry out disinfection operations in the United States. Trump claimed that the International Emergency Economic Powers Act empowers the president to discontinue an app like Tiktok when national security is threatened.
A follow-up order on 14 August retrospectively blocked the ByteDance 2017 acquisition of music. Subsequently, the platform which later evolved into Tiktok. The president has the power to prevent international mergers that raise national security concerns, and some experts see this as a strong legal basis for shutting down the service.
Bytdance had offers from both Microsoft and Oracle and was reportedly close to choosing one of them after the Chinese government intervened. In late August, Beijing announced new export control regulations, which limit the export of artificial intelligence software without government approval.
TikTok has sophisticated video recommendation algorithms that will likely run through those rules incorrectly. The new rules therefore mean that any sales must be approved by the Chinese government – which would prefer not to have US control over one of China’s most popular global technology platforms
There is a danger that the conflicting demands of the US and Chinese governments will leave no room for TikTok to deal with Microsoft, Oracle, or anyone else. In that case, ByteDance may be forced to shut down its US operations.
But it is unclear when exactly the ban will come into force. Trump told reporters that ByteDance needed to strike a deal by 15 September. But Trump’s written executive orders set different deadlines: around 20 September for the first executive order and mid-November for the second. These deadlines have also been pushed back by the courts because they believe bytead’s pleas that the orders themselves are illegal.