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TikTok sale to Walmart, Oracle shelved amid Biden administration review, report says

The icon for TikTok is on a touch screen
The icon for TikTok is on a touch screen.
(Associated Press)

TikTok’s forced sale to Walmart Inc. and Oracle Corp. has been shelved indefinitely as the Biden administration takes on a broad review of national security risks posed by Chinese technology companies initiated under then-President Trump, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citing national security concerns, Trump declared last year that, to continue operating in the U.S., the popular video app, which is owned by China’s ByteDance Ltd., would have to be sold to an American company. But multiple legal challenges held up a deal.

The most recent ruling regarding TikTok ownership, on Dec. 7, said Trump’s executive order probably overstepped his authority.

Discussions have continued between ByteDance and U.S. security officials at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the talks.

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One of the people said possible solutions include the use of a trusted third party to manage TikTok’s data, which wouldn’t require an outright sale. Trump had cited concerns about users’ data falling into the hands of Chinese authorities. But no decision on how to resolve the issues is imminent as the Biden administration undertakes its own assessment of the risks of Chinese technology companies and data collection.

Any deal would probably be different from the one discussed last year, the Journal said, partly because TikTok no longer faces the threat of an imminent shutdown.

Oracle, Walmart and others could still be part of a potential deal, the Journal said, but it depends on how the Biden administration pursues the initiatives against TikTok that were launched by Trump.

Clues could begin to emerge next week, according to the Journal, when the government’s formal response to TikTok’s court challenge against Trump’s executive order is due.


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