President Donald Trump has reversed his decision to ban TikTok. As for WeChat, a judge in California temporarily suspended the ban, which means the app will run like normal for the time being. Trump held a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina over the weekend where he discussed the possibility of tech giant Oracle and Walmart joining forces to save TikTok. A deal was struck late last night, which Trump gave his blessing to. “I have given the deal my blessing,” he said. “I approve the deal in concept.”
Oracle and Walmart have partnered to form TikTok global, which will have a headquarters set up in the United States. That deal apparently satisfies the White House’s worries over the security of American user data. With that being said, the Chinese tech company ByteDance will still hold its majority-ownership position. Oracle and Walmart only have about 20% of TikTok. “The interactions with the Chinese government, and the ability of the Chinese government to put pressure on the ByteDance company, is still substantial,” according to Chris Kelly, former chief privacy officer at Facebook.
TikTok sees over 100 million active users monthly and Trump has put a lot of pressure on the them to sever ties with the Chinese company ByteDance. The fear is that China can gain American user data and use it for a cyber-attack. Oracle will now house all of the United States user data to ensure that nothing nefarious happens to it, though security breaches are still very much possible at this point in time. Plus, China will likely still have access to the data that they already have. “We are a hundred percent confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users, and users throughout the world,” says Oracle CEO Safra Catz, who also served as a member of Trump’s 2016 transition team.
Walmart and Oracle are expected to benefit from the new deal by a lot. However, with ByteDance still owning 80% of TikTok, there are still fears that the new deal could open a backdoor for China to gain even more access to United States user data. An unnamed official for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) says, “ByteDance is still the biggest dog in this deal. The foreign control issue does not go away.”
It is believed that the new deal between Oracle, Walmart, and ByteDance will produce 25,000 new American jobs while bringing in close to $5 billion in taxes to the U.Ss treasury. However, the companies did not offer a timeframe in which all of this will happen. Also included in the deal is the American history curriculum that will promote Donald Trump’s recently announced, “patriotic education.” The deal has not yet been finalized by Oracle, Walmart, ByteDance, or CFIUS. NPR was one of the first outlets to report on the TikTok rescue.