U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter Wednesday to President Donald Trump expressing concerns about the proposed partnership between ByteDance and Oracle for the U.S. operations of short-form video app TikTok that was announced this week.
In the letter co-signed by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Rick Scott (R-FL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and John Cornyn (R-TX), Rubio wrote that the partnership should be scrutinized because it may not address the issues outlined in executive orders issued by the Administration in August.
“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,” the senators wrote. “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 this potential agreement.”
The partnership agreement between Oracle and ByteDance would see TikTok’s data administered by Oracle and housed on its servers in the U.S. The deal falls short of what Trump was asking for – a full divestment by ByteDance to a U.S. company. The deal is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging him to vigorously scrutinize the ByteDance-Oracle deal:
“I urge the Administration to take all deliberate action necessary to protect Americans and American interests in this matter, to carefully consider the proposed transaction, and to insist on an outright sale if that is what is necessary to protect American national security,” Cruz wrote.
Also on Wednesday, Trump admitted that there is no possibility that the U.S. government can take a chunk of any deal involving TikTok, because it isn’t legal.
“Amazingly, I find that you’re not allowed to do that, you’re not allowed to accept money,” Trump told reporters during a press conference Wednesday. “If they’re willing to make big payments to the government they’re not allowed because there’s no way of doing that, there’s no legal path to doing that.”
Finally, a TikTok worker who sued the Administration in Federal Court over concerns that salaries and other benefits would be withheld due to the executive orders was rebuffed Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco denied a request for a temporary restraining order filed by TikTok employee Patrick Ryan against the executive order, ruling that it was “premature.”
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