TikTok sale to American company may not happen in time to avoid US ban

TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance, facing roadblocks recently thrown up by the Chinese government, may not be able to sell the app’s US business in time to meet President Trump’s Sept. 20 deadline to avoid a ban.

Beijing last month introduced export restrictions on artificial intelligence technology, seemingly including the algorithm that TikTok uses to determine which videos to show each user. That means ByteDance would have to obtain a license to export any restricted technologies to a foreign company.

The regulatory review likely means that even if ByteDance were to reach a deal for a sale to an American company — likely Microsoft or Oracle — it would not be able to get a transaction done in time to keep the app from being banned, Bloomberg reports.

The review period could extend past the US presidential election in November, according to the report.

The Trump administration is currently deciding whether to grant ByteDance an extension to reach a deal, or to ban TikTok – which has more than 100 million users in the United States — if the deadline is not met.

Trump and other US officials have expressed concern that Beijing could force TikTok to hand over sensitive user data. TikTok has insisted it has never provided user data to China and that it would not do so if asked.

ByteDance is currently working to put together a “preliminary deal” to show the White House. It is also a possibility that ByteDance decides to not sell TikTok if it becomes too difficult to satisfy both Beijing and Washington as well as its investors, the report said.

On Wednesday, reports emerged that ByteDance was in talks with the US government about a possible deal which would allow it to avoid an outright sale of the app and maintain some ownership stake while still satisfying the US’s demand that China have no way to access user data.

A sale of the popular video app has appeared imminent for weeks since CEO Kevin Mayer quit his post after just three months when he was reportedly left out of sale negotiations with both Microsoft and Oracle.

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