The US president gives the Chinese giant 90 days to carry out the transaction and suggests that a part of the profit go to the Treasury.
President Donald Trump has signed a decree on Friday that forces the Chinese group ByteDance to sell the activities in the United States of TikTok , its international social network, within 90 days, thus materializing repeated threats.
“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … could take action that threatens to harm the national security of the United States,” the presidential decree explains. The White House tenant has for months accused, without proof, the popular video-sharing platform of diverting data from US users to hand over to the Chinese government.
“As we have already said, 100 million Americans love TikTok because it is a place for entertainment, self-expression and social connection,” a ByteDance spokesperson reacted. “We are determined to continue to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who believe in our platform for many years to come.”
In a context of strong trade and political tensions with China , Trump already took radical measures a week ago against TikTok and WeChat . This last application belongs to the Chinese giant Tencent and is omnipresent in the lives of the Chinese (messaging, remote payments, reservations …). It prohibited them, 45 days after the measure was announced, transactions with US partners.
“We are shocked by this decree,” TikTok commented in a statement. “For almost a year, we have sought to discuss with the United States government to find a solution (…) But we are faced with an administration that does not give importance to the facts, does not respect legal procedures and tries to interfere in negotiations between private businesses”.
The decree signed on Friday specifies that the buyer must be American and “demonstrate their willingness and ability to comply with this decree.” American computer giant Microsoft is in talks with ByteDance to buy TikTok at least in the United States, and perhaps more widely.
The transaction has been valued by the US press at between 10 and 30 billion dollars.
Trump has stated on several occasions that if the acquisition takes place, “a very large percentage of the price must go to the United States Treasury “, because, according to him, such an operation is only possible thanks to the American authorities.
This staggering requirement drew strong criticism, especially as its threats and decrees have, in effect, made a transaction mandatory. Some observers have called these methods “gangsters.”
Other online security experts have argued that TikTok does not pose a major threat to the country, especially since network data is stored on servers in the United States and Singapore .
According to the decree signed this Friday, ByteDance must confirm that it has destroyed all data “of US users, obtained or derived from TikTok and Musical.ly “, an American application that had been bought by the Chinese company and merged with TikTok.