Trump Administration Raises The Bar for TikTok Approval Requirements

The Trump administration is raising what is required in the TikTok Oracle Walmart deal. This after comments made by Steven Mnuchin.

Last month, we noted how TikTok finally secured a deal that looked like it would get approval. The deal, known as the TikTok Oracle Walmart deal, was struck last minute just hours before the TikTok ban was set to take place. When presented to impeached president, Donald Trump, Trump seemed to give preliminary approval to the deal. This, at least, raised hopes that maybe the drama might finally be ending for this saga.

Now it seems that the Trump administration is starting to have other plans about the situation. Recently, US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, seemed to raise the bar for what they want out of the deal. Before, all TikTok required was to be US owned. The whereabouts of the source code went back and forth on where it needed to be. Now, it seems that the deal has a whole new set of requirements over top of what was being previously asked. From Yahoo! News:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said if Oracle’s deal for TikTok cannot be closed with terms that meet U.S. security requirements, including holding code in the United States, the short video app will be shut down.

“All of the code will have to be in the United States. Oracle will be responsible for rebuilding the code, sanitizing the code, making sure it’s safe in their cloud, and …it’ll satisfy all of our requirements,” Mnuchin told a CNBC investor conference.

So, it seems that the bullet points are adding up for TikTok. The problem, however, is that if Mnuchin is of the mind that if TikTok doesn’t satisfy these requirements, that TikTok would be banned, well, a court order might say otherwise. As we reported just two days ago, a judge has blocked the TikTok ban. So, if the Trump administration says, “You did not satisfy our requirements. You are getting banned”, well, that ban is being blocked by a judge at that point. So, in the short term, it’s an idle threat.

Setting aside the court case, there is another point to make here. As we reported early last month, China revised its export rules. One of the things that it revised is that it has final say over exporting the source code of TikTok. Later on last month, we’ve reported how China has already expressed displeasure over the deal. There does appear to be an olive branch in that the administration seems open to the US version of TikTok rebuilding the source code from scratch. Still, that is an extremely high requirement that will no doubt put a huge burden on the social networks engineers.

A takeaway here is that the Trump administration seems to be getting less receptive to the new deal. Before, it was seemingly an all but sure thing that this deal would get a green light in the US. Now, it’s not exactly a sure thing at this stage. The twists and turns just keep stacking up in this saga.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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