Will President-Elect Joe Biden Move Forward With a TikTok Ban?


Nov. 11 2020, Published 9:23 a.m. ET

For months prior to the U.S. election, Donald Trump targeted TikTok as a national security threat because of its Chinese ownership. Through the guidance of a technology committee, Trump set a deadline of Thursday, Nov. 12, for TikTok to sell a minority stake to American companies. 

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Although the deadline is fast approaching, TikTok hasn't heard from the Trump administration in weeks—and it's not certain whether president-elect Joe Biden will proceed with a TikTok ban in his own term. 

What is CFIUS and how do its regulations relate to Trump's TikTok ban?

CFIUS is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Under the Trump administration, it has been in charge of setting the regulations for the TikTok ban. Biden's technology advisor says it's too early to know if the forthcoming administration will proceed with the ban.

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CFIUS laws and guidance are publicly available. In early 2020, CFIUS implemented a strengthened version of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA), which ultimately strengthens the committee's oversight and expands its jurisdictional reach.

Where TikTok stands with CFIUS

According to CFIUS, TIkTok has until Nov. 12 to "divest any tangible or intangible assets or property, wherever located, used to enable or support ByteDance’s operation of the TikTok application in the United States."

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Basically, CFIUS calls for TikTok to divest assets to an American company, but one thing it doesn't clarify is what happens if the company fails to do so.

This unsureness led TikTok to make an additional move on Nov. 10. Since it hasn't heard from CFIUS in weeks, the company filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, seeking a review of actions from the committee.

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Here's what TikTok had to say about the matter: "In the nearly two months since the President gave his preliminary approval to our proposal to satisfy those concerns, we have offered detailed solutions to finalize that agreement – but have received no substantive feedback."

Why is Trump banning TikTok?

The TikTok ban all stems from the Trump administration's perception of the company's ownership. ByteDance, TikTok's owner, is a Chinese company. Since China has a history of collecting user data from its own citizens, Trump has stated that the country could do the same with data from American users.

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Who plans to buy TikTok?

In Sept., ByteDance planned to create a U.S. subsidiary called TikTok Global. This subsidiary would be partly owned by Oracle and Walmart and would serve to satisfy the CFIUS regulations which have been a point of contention for months. TikTok also just announced it's increasing its Dublin enterprise to 1,100 employees by early 2021, up from just 20 people per year before the goal.

What to know about the TikTok-Oracle deal:

Plans for TikTok to officially sell a minority stake to Oracle and Walmart are still up in the air. If the deal goes through, Oracle and Walmart would get a combined 20 percent stake in TikTok Global. The subsidiary also expects to create 25,000 new U.S. jobs.

Oracle employees saw layoffs in 2020

In late Oct. 2020, Oracle Spain laid off 200 employees. In 2019, Oracle laid off a reported 10 percent of its employee base. Some former employees say annual layoffs are the norm.


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