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China-based Tiktok faces deadline for sale of US operations


China-based Tiktok faces deadline for sale of US operations

Photo: Reuters/ Brendan McDermid

Today is the likely US deadline for the Chinese company ByteDance to sell the US operations of its wildly popular app TikTok.

The row over the video app began after a 2019 Guardian expose showed the company censoring content critical of the Chinese Communist Party and raised concerns over data security. This eventually led to the app’s ban in India, while Washington and Brussels currently weigh their own restrictions on TikTok and other Chinese tech firms.

This summer, Microsoft began initial talks with ByteDance on acquiring a minority stake to coerce TikTok to migrate cloud computing services from Google onto its own platform. These talks have subsequently ballooned into a referendum on the US-China technology relationship. With 100 million active monthly users in the US and a potential valuation of over $80 billion, TikTok is now likely to be acquired by database company Oracle, pending White House approval.

It is quite possible that today’s sale deadline will pass and US President Donald Trump will back down without banning the app. TikTok has appointed David Urban, a former senior Trump campaign adviser, to lobby his former boss to ease Washington’s involvement. If no deal is reached, it is likely TikTok will continue operating as normal in the US until a court ruling forces it to halt; however, Washington could force US financial companies to cease doing business with the firm.

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