November 25, 2020 12:59pm
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In this photo illustration a TikTok logo is seen displayed on a smartphone with an American flag on the background. On July 31, 2020, according to media reports, Trump told reporters on his special plane “Air Force One” that he will ban TikTok from operating in the United States. (Photo by Sheldon Cooper / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
The federal government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has extended the deadline for the arranged sale of TikTok by one week, to December 4.
In a brief legal filing Wednesday, government attorneys disclosed the latest extension, which followed a previous two-week reprieve to November 27. Officials have been in a months-long back-and-forth with TikTok and its China-based parent, ByteDance, due to security concerns centered on the fast-growing social video app.
In August, President Donald Trump signed an order requiring the company to sell TikTok to a “very American” company due to concerns about national security as well as privacy. A month later, Oracle emerged as Trump’s choice to take majority control of a new, U.S.-run entity in which Walmart would also have a stake. Details of the arrangement have not been finalized, however, and Trump’s order has faced numerous court challenges in the months since it was issued. On November 10, attorneys for TikTok asked a federal appeals court to overturn the order, calling it “unlawful.”
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The whole affair has also been eclipsed in recent weeks by Trump’s unsuccessful fight for a second term in office.
While datamining is a concern throughout the tech industry, Chinese companies are required to pass along considerable amounts of the data they collect to the government. That dynamic has raised flags for a number of U.S. officials, especially during a nationalist period of trade war with China and Trump and others blithely referring to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus.” While ByteDance was founded by a Chinese entrepreneur, the company has maintained that it is not technically based in China.
As the messy situation has dragged on, users have been none the wiser as the app continues to function normally. Trump’s initial threat to leave U.S. users in the dark unless a sale happened has appeared to diminish, and some observers wonder if the delays in the process might continue until Joe Biden is sworn in as president in January. A reconfiguration of TikTok’s ownership could still happen in a new administration, but Biden’s background suggests other scenarios besides the sell-it-or-else approach taken by Trump.