Sep 17, 2020
GOP Senators Ask Trump to Block Oracles TikTok Deal
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A group of Republican senators led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday asking him to block Oracle’s attempt to partner with TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance.
“The potential status of Oracle as a ‘trusted technology provider’ to ByteDance raises a number of significant concerns.Oracle would merely assume a managements role of TikTok’s U.S. data and possibly acquire only a stake in the company’s American operations,” the group wrote, noting the arrangement “would do little to satisfy the range of concerns” cited in Trump’s executive order demanding that TikTok be sold to an American company.
“As this deal appears to fall short of a full acquisition, serious questions remain with regard to Oracle’s role in TikTok’s U.S. operations, the type of technology Oracle will be providing ByteDance, and the question of what will happen to the crucial algorithms, which make the application function,” the senators added.
Rubio’s cosignatories included Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), John Cornyn (R-TX), and fellow Florida Republican Rick Scott.
Trump in August signed an executive order requiring ByteDance to reach an agreement to sell the video-sharing platform to an American company, citing concerns that it extracted too much information from users’ devices — including GPS data and network information — and that it enabled the Chinese government to access that data,
Experts have suggested a version of the application used on Android devices even allows the company to remotely install new files, a feature not commonly associated with other smartphone apps.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment would review the proposed deal with Oracle this week and render a recommendation to the president. The deal is also subject to a national security review.
The deal — described as a partnership between ByteDance and Oracle — does not appear to meet the requirements of Trump’s executive order, which required ByteDance to fully divest from TikTok’s operations in the U.S. However, Trump on Tuesday seemed to signal that he was open to it, telling reporters his team was “very close to a deal.” He also praised Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, saying holds “high respect” for him and adding, “He’s somebody I know, he’s been really a terrific guy for a long time.”
The group of senators emphasized their skepticism of the proposal, writing, “Any deal between an American company and ByteDance must ensure that TikTok’s U.S. operations, data, and algorithms are entirely outside the control of ByteDance or any Chinese-state directed actors, including any entity that can be compelled by Chinese law to turn over or access U.S. consumer data. As reported, the proposed partnership agreement between Oracle and TikTok leaves significant unresolved national security issues, and we expect the administration to keep Congress fully informed as you evaluate the agreement.”
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UK Labour Party Will Not Block Extension of Coronavirus Act
"We recognised that the government, in a pandemic, any government needs extraordinary powers available, and why with a heavy heart today, facing this highly unsatisfactory situation of an all or nothing motion, we will not be blocking its passage today," Labour spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds told parliament during a debate on renewing existing legislation.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Alistair Smout)
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