President Donald Trump has signed on Friday a decree obliging the chinese group ByteDance to sell the u.s. operations of TikTok, the social network, international, within 90 days, thus formalizing threats many times repeated.
“There is credible evidence that would lead me to believe that ByteDance (…) could take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” says the presidential decree.
The tenant of the White House accuses since months, without evidence, the popular video-sharing platform to siphon the data of american users to the benefit of Beijing.
“As we have already said, TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a place of entertainment, personal expression and social connection,” responded a spokesman for ByteDance.
“We are determined to continue to bring joy to families, and careers full of meaning to those who create on our platform for many years”.
In a context of strong tensions and commercial policy with China, the u.s. president has already taken a week ago of the radical measures against TikTok, and the platform WeChat.
It belongs to the chinese giant Tencent, and is omnipresent in the lives of the Chinese (e-mail, remote payments, bookings…).
It has been prohibited to them within 45 days, any transaction with a u.s. partner.
“We are shocked by this decree”, had then commented TikTok in a press release.
“For nearly a year, we have sought to discuss with the u.s. government to find a solution (…) But we found ourselves faced with an administration that gives no importance to the facts, does not comply with the legal procedures and attempts to interfere in negotiations between private companies”.
Price to debate
The new decree, signed Friday specifies that the buyer must be american and “prove its willingness and ability to comply with this decree”.
The software giant Microsoft is in full negotiations with ByteDance to buy TikTok, at least in the United States, or even more widely.
Such a transaction is estimated at between 10 billion and 30 billion dollars by the american press.
Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that if the acquisition takes place, “a very large proportion of the price must revert to the Treasury of the United States”, because, according to him, such an operation is only possible thanks to the american authorities.
This odd requirement was met with fierce criticism and a certain embarrassment, as well as its threats and decrees were, in fact, made mandatory a transaction.
Observers have denounced the methods of “mafia”.
Other security experts have argued that TikTok was no major threat to the country, especially as the network data are stored on servers in the United States and Singapore.
According to the decree of Friday, ByteDance will need to confirm that it has destroyed all data “to u.s. users, obtained or derived from TikTok-and-Music.ly”, an application that the u.s. had been taken over by the chinese company and fondue in TikTok.