TikTok Has a Buyer at the 11th Hour: Report

Microsoft's bid for the app's US operations was rejected
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2020 6:00 PM CDT
Updated Sep 14, 2020 12:03 AM CDT
Microsoft: The TikTok Deal Is Dead in the Water
This file photo shows the icon for TikTok.   (AP Photo/File)

Looks like TikTok is selling its US operations to Oracle, a Silicon Valley firm, only a week before President Trump threatened to ban the app if no deal materialized. At least that's what insiders tell the Wall Street Journal. But no details have emerged about the Chinese video-sharing app's apparent sale. Earlier Sunday, Microsoft said its bid had been denied—why is unclear, but the New York Times notes that Microsoft wanted control of TikTok's computer code to protect US users from Chinese snooping or disinformation. China then barred TikTok from selling the code without Beijing's approval, and a source at TikTok parent company ByteDance said the code was indeed off the table.

"The car can be sold, but not the engine," the source told the South China Morning Post. "The company will not hand out source code to any US buyer, but the technology team of TikTok in the US can develop a new algorithm." So how can Oracle—a maker of business software and rare Trump ally in Silicon Valley—meet Washington's requirements without buying the all-important code? That, too, is unclear, but the Journal reports that ByteDance has approached Washington about avoiding a full sale of TikTok's US operations. The concern, posed by US intelligence agencies, is that TikTok's code allows China to cull sensitive user data. Washington still needs to approve the Oracle deal. (Walmart had joined Microsoft in its TikTok bid. Here's why.)

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