US Commerce Department is set to issue orders to Apple and Google for taking down TikTok from their applications stores from Sunday. Similar action will be taken against Chinese messaging application WeChat. This will be in accordance with the first two executive orders signed by US President Donald Trump on August 6 which barred US companies from dealing with the two Chinese apps from September 20.
The Commerce Department stopped short of forcing Apple and Google to take down the Chinese version of TikTok and WeChat from their app stores active in China, The Financial Times reported.
The Sunday deadline looms close even as Trump administration is "making a decision" on a proposed deal for transferring TikTok's ownership to an American company. Oracle, which was picked by ByteDance as the US buyer for TikTok, and the Chinese app are in talks with the Trump administration to clear existing concerns.
Oracle has tabled a proposal before the Trump administration to become a technology partner in the TikTok app. As per the proposed deal, TikTok will be majority owned by ByteDance initially but will be listed publicly in the US in future. The app's global business will be handed over to a separate US company with an all-American board and a security committee led by someone with government security clearances.
Trump is unhappy with a Chinese company retaining control of TikTok after the deal after six Republican lawmakers urged him to terminate the proposal. Senators Marco Rubio, Thom Tillis, Roger Wicker, Rick Scott, Dan Sullivan and John Cornyn have written to Trump over concerns regarding reports that Oracle has confirmed a deal with ByteDance to become a trusted technology provider for TikTok's US operations, including that the arrangement could violate the requirements set about in the August 6, 2020, executive order on addressing the threat posed by TikTok and would do little to satisfy the range of concerns expressed in that order.
Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees, in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed reservations that the TikTok-Oracle deal could leave the American people exposed to undue influence by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and undermine US national security interests. Referring to certain reports, Cruz said that other companies interested in purchasing ByteDance felt they were unable to address national security concerns under the conditions imposed by the Chinese government.
"We're making a decision. We spoke today to Walmart, Oracle - I guess, Microsoft is still involved. We'll make a decision. But nothing much has changed. We'll make a decision soon," Trump told reporters at the White House earlier today.
Moreover, the TikTok-Oracle deal will have to be cleared by China, ByteDance has clarified. Notably, Beijing recently reformed its list of technologies that will face export restrictions, and it includes items that make up crucial algorithms used in TikTok.
As per a third executive order signed by Trump, ByteDance has till November 12 to divest TikTok's US business. It seems this storm is far from over.