The Trump administration is banning downloads of Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat in the US starting on Sunday. For the 100 million users who already have TikTok downloaded, they can still access the app, but the apps will face multiple restrictions in the coming days.
In a statement, the Trump administration said it was making the decision to “safeguard the national security of the United States” and “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.”
CNN Business reports that starting Sunday, TikTok users won’t have access to app updates that offer maintenance or improvements in-app. For WeChat, it will be illegal to host or transfer internet traffic associated with WeChat beginning Sunday. This restriction won’t apply to TikTok until November 12.
There is still a chance of survival for TikTok, however. Just this week, ByteDance, the Chinese-owned parent company of TikTok chose Oracle as TikTok’s new “trusted technology provider.” The deal has yet to get approval from the US government. The companies have until November 12 to comply with the administration’s national security concerns.
Last month, Trump signed an executive order that gave TikTok 45 days to transfer ownership from ByteDance to an American company. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the ByteDance-Oracle deal is not an outright sale, as demanded in Trump’s original order.
What Does “Trusted Technology Provider” Mean?
Oracle was one of many companies bidding for TikTok’s US operations, competing against Microsoft and Walmart. Hours prior to the ByteDance-Oracle deal, Microsoft announced they were no longer bidding for TikTok’s US operations.
Oracle is known for selling database software and technology, cloud engineering systems, and enterprise software products. Their new ties to TikTok means they could provide their cloud service, such as storing TikTok’s data in the US, or computing services for the app, AP reports.
It is also unclear whether Oracle has acquired any assets in the deal. TikTok is widely popular due to its main feed, which is driven by its content-recommendation algorithm. According to AP, ByteDance has no plans to sell the algorithm or export it.
Despite TikTok and Oracle confirming the deal, it still needs approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United State (CFIUS) as it may have national security implications. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed the proposal would be reviewed and presented to Trump.
Last month, Trump said he would support Oracle buying TikTok, saying it was a “great company.” Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is a known Trump supporter, having hosted a campaign fundraiser for the president this year.
What Does This Mean For TikTok?
According to CNN, TikTok said the proposal aims to “resolve the Administration’s security concerns” and emphasized the app’s importance to its 100 million US users. If finalized and approved by the CFIUS, TikTok would be allowed to continue US operations.
With most of the deal’s details a mystery, many concerns are left unaddressed. Users are concerned whether or not they will experience in-app changes with Oracle’s presence and influence. The ongoing privacy and security concerns on how TikTok users’ data is stored or how it is used remains as well.
“A deal where Oracle takes over hosting without source code and significant operational changes would not address any of the legitimate concerns about TikTok,” Alex Stamos, former Facebook security chief, said on Twitter. “The White House accepting such a deal would demonstrate that this exercise was pure grift.”
In the weeks leading up to the deadline, many TikTok users sought out replacements for the app should it be banned, including Byte, Triller, and Instagram Reels. With the recent announcement, TikTok users have taken to expressing joy that, for now, their app is here to stay.