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The sale of TikTok to a U.S. company for the app to continue its operations in the country has been dragging on for months. U.S. President Donald Trump has insisted that ByteDance, the Chinese stakeholder of the popular video-sharing app, should turn over their shares by November 15. It has brought tough questions on why the administration is enforcing such actions amidst the ongoing pandemic.
However, the federal government firmly believes that their move to TikTok responds to the growing concerns about national security, especially with the upcoming presidential elections.
Several unintended collateral damages have been incurred with this issue. When talks of the ban for the app first started, Trump was firm in saying that it has to be entirely sold to a U.S. tech company for the app to continue its operations.
Microsoft and Google were initially considering getting shares of the app, but, due to the administration’s policies, both quietly backed down from their deals. Recent events, however, showed that a partial sale was possible, and thus Walmart got involved in the picture as they have partnered with Oracle, the company that is now in talks to get minority stakes for the app.
Walmart would have never gotten involved had Microsoft and Google been given the option to obtain the stocks partially earlier on. Also, TikTok’s C.E.O. Kevin Mayer would still have been with the company, after quitting due to the rhetoric created between ByteDance, the government, and the tech companies interested to bid for the sale.
The TikTok controversy is not the first of its kind wherein this administration has used technological companies in its geopolitical warfare against China. Broadcom has earlier been banned from acquiring Qualcomm in 2018, as it was said that the company had ties to foreign companies. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States or CFUIS has listed the issue under national security concern over Broadcom.
Earlier this year, CFUIS also made Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd, a Chinese gaming company, to sell its popular dating app Grindr amidst growing concerns for the personal data privacy of U.S. citizens. It was Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey, two Democratic U.S. senators, who first raised their apprehension on user data security under Grindr owner who is Chinese.
Reuters has also reported that the gaming company has given personal information like private messages and H.I.V. status to engineers based on Beijing.