Former US President Donald Trump tried to finish as many pending tasks before his term ended but there were still many that were left unresolved. In the tech industry, one of the biggest was the fate of TikTok and its forced sale to a US company. Although the parties involved, including Oracle and Walmart, have already come into an agreement, they’re still waiting for the US government approval that won’t be coming anytime soon because the matter is now being reviewed again by the Biden administration.
Like many Chinese companies that have come under the previous’ administration’s crosshair, TikTok, owned by ByteDance, has been accused of being a national security threat. In TikTok’s particular case, the allegations revolve around American’s data that are hosted in China and are, therefore, subject to a foreign government’s laws. Trump previously threatened to ban TikTok completely but eventually gave a way out for the popular social media platform.
For months, TikTok haggled with the US government to give in to its demands even while it protests the label. Its final solution was selling its US operations to a consortium made up of Oracle and Walmart, transferring American users’ data to servers hosted in the US. The deadline for that deal lapsed more than once, not through ByteDance’s fault, and was almost forgotten during the transition from Trump to Biden.
That deal has now been pushed back indefinitely by the new administration. It asked the federal court that ruled against the ban in December for time to review the matter. Biden’s team will now have to determine whether TikTok is really a national security threat as Trump insinuated and whether such action is needed at all.
ByteDance didn’t oppose the request for a delay though that doesn’t mean it’s completely off the hook. Until the US government finally makes a decision, TikTok’s operations in the US still hangs by a thread. This only gives them more time to prepare for a worst-case scenario.