Sen. Josh Hawley is publicly calling on the Treasury Department to reject Oracle’s proposed partnership with TikTok, saying the arrangement is unacceptable on national security grounds.
The deal is currently awaiting a recommendation from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), but it has received praise from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who chairs the committee. In an open letter to Mnuchin, Hawley calls on the secretary to take a more skeptical look at the proposal.
“CFIUS should promptly reject any Oracle-ByteDance collaboration, and send the ball back to ByteDance’s court so that the company can come up with a more acceptable solution,” Hawley writes. “ByteDance can still pursue a full sale of TikTok, its code, and its algorithm to a U.S. company, so that the app can be rebuilt from the ground up to remove any trace of CCP influence.”
“The app can be rebuilt from the ground up to remove any trace of CCP influence”
News broke on Sunday that Oracle had forged a deal with ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, which would name the US partner as a “trusted tech partner” — nominally resolving the national security concerns about Chinese ownership of the app. ByteDance rejected an accompanying offer from Microsoft, which had proposed more significant changes to TikTok’s operating structure.
The Oracle deal differs significantly from President Trump’s initial demands, which called for the US version of TikTok to be severed off and sold. Reports indicate that some in the White House are dissatisfied with the deal, but no one has gone as far as publicly calling for the deal to be rejected — in part because it might result in the app being shut down entirely.
For Hawley, however, the prospect of a shutdown is a necessary risk.
“Perhaps, given constraints imposed by Chinese law, the only feasible way to maintain Americans’ security is to effectively ban the TikTok app in the United States altogether,” the senator continues in the letter. “In any event, an ongoing ‘partnership’ that allows for anything other than the full emancipation of the TikTok software from potential Chinese Communist Party control is completely unacceptable, and flatly inconsistent with the President’s Executive Order of August 6.”
The final decision on TikTok’s fate will fall to Trump, who is expected to receive the CFIUS recommendation later this week. The president has yet to comment on the deal.
Sen. Hawley Letter to Secretary Mnuchin 10-14-2020 (PDF)
Sen. Hawley Letter to Secretary Mnuchin 10-14-2020 (Text)