Earlier this summer, news of TikTok facing potential bans around the globe was just beginning to heat up. As both the controversy and summer continued to simmer over the last couple of months, it seemed like the Chinese-owned app was doomed to face the banhammer in the U.S.
But just as President Donald Trump’s executive order that TikTok be sold to a U.S. company was nearing its 45-day deadline this week, it appeared that Oracle would swoop down at the final moment to rescue it from the jaws of defeat.
Oracle creating content on tiktok pic.twitter.com/k22MEdaRya
— Ali (@endingwithali) September 15, 2020
To add further concern, Oracle co-founder and executive chairman Larry Ellison’s personal relationship with the president has been another major point of contention surrounding this unexpected deal. According to Business Insider earlier this year, Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump at his private estate in California, leading many to suggest that the Oracle-TikTok partnership might involve some troubling favoritism.
Remember to download TikTok Version 8 Update 261 from Oracle. pic.twitter.com/yNPo2ph9CO
— ADeltaX (@ADeltaXForce) September 14, 2020
As far as anyone knows so far, the partnership between Oracle and TikTok’s U.S. operation will see Oracle as a sort of “babysitter,” similar to TikTok’s operations in countries like Korea and Nigeria. This means that operations in the U.S. will face oversight by Oracle, who would take over hosting, but control of the highly contested source code remains under the thumb of TikTok … and thus, China. Not only would this partnership fail to address the most legitimate concerns about TikTok’s operations regarding American citizens, but it would also “demonstrate that this exercise was pure grift,” according to former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos.
A deal where Oracle takes over hosting without source code and significant operational changes would not address any of the legitimate concerns about TikTok, and the White House accepting such a deal would demonstrate that this exercise was pure grift. https://t.co/3kpwqnEYol
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) September 13, 2020
This news that things aren’t sailing as smoothing as previously thought also comes after Senator Marco Rubio and a group of other Republican senators called on the Trump administration to reject the proposed deal between the two companies just this morning over “serious concerns.” The group urged the Trump administration to walk away from signing off on the partnership unless all ties between TikTok’s U.S. operations and ByteDance were completely severed.
The only thing that matters is whether that we are protecting the personal & consumer data of Americans from being collected by &/or diverted to #China.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 16, 2020
With all this in mind, national-security regulators are currently reviewing the proposal, with plans to reach an ultimate resolution on the matter by Sunday, coinciding with the end of the 45-day deadline. But what exactly the final outcome of this partnership, the concerns over national security and the fate of TikTok remain uncertain for the time being.
Throughout all of this turmoil, ByteDance and TikTok have each denied that they provide any sort of aid to the Chinese government. Even if TikTok as a platform is completely uninteresting to you, it’s hard to argue that this whole clusterfuck hasn’t been enthralling, to say the least.