Respite for TikTok as Trump extends deadline to divest US operations

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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President Trump released an executive order that would give ByteDance a new deadline of 90 days to either sell or spin off its US TikTok business.

“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,” Trump said in the order.

ByteDance, the parent company of the popular video sharing app, is based in China and the Trump administration recently suggested the company could share information with the Chinese government about Americans. The company has denied the allegation.

Trump’s new move comes on top of an executive order he released last week that would restrict all transactions with TikTok unless it is divested within 45 days by ByteDance.

The new order from the American president is a relief to ByteDance as it originally had a September 20th deadline; now, it has until November 12th. It is already in talks to sell TikTok’s operations in North America, Australia and New Zealand to Microsoft.

Trump has clarified that he would support Microsoft’s plan to purchase American operations from TikTok only if the US government had a “substantial portion” of the proceeds, adding that there were other potential buyers too.

The new executive order mandates ByteDance to delete all the user data of US TikTok users and report to the US Foreign Investment Committee after all data is destroyed. ByteDance will also require to delete any data that the company obtained in 2017 from the TikTok predecessor app These requirements were not included in the original order with the 45 day deadline.

The Trump administration has stepped up their attempts to remove from US digital networks what it calls “untrusted” Chinese apps. Apart from TikTok, Trump has also banned Tencent owned multi-purpose app, WeChat.

Though a group of large US corporations, including Apple, expressed concerns about the possible negative effects of the TikTok and WeChat ban on US businesses, Trump appeared unconcerned.

Apart from Microsoft, Twitter has also expressed interest in TikTok’s US operations.