Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Monday urged the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to reject Oracle’s deal to take control of TikTok’s operations in the U.S., arguing it would allow for continued Chinese control of the social media app.
ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, announced on Monday that it has chosen Oracle to be its U.S. technology partner, and Oracle has submitted a bid to the Treasury. It will now be reviewed by CFIUS.
The move is in response to President Trump’s executive order last month that will ban TikTok over national security concerns related to China unless ByteDance sold the app in a way that resolved those concerns.
“TikTok automatically gathers vast swaths of information from its users, including internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search history,” the executive order said.
But in the letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Hawley called for CFIUS to reject the deal, saying it did not solve the Chinese national security threat and that CFIUS should “send the ball back to ByteDance’s court so that the company can come up with a more acceptable solution.”
“China’s repressive intelligence laws, which allow the seizure of data from Chinese companies like ByteDance if the Chinese Communist Party comes knocking, still remain in force,” he said. “And that is why any corporate shell game that leaves TikTok in the hands of ByteDance will simply perpetuate the original problem, leaving U.S. national interests and everyday users at serious risk.”
He said that ByteDance could fully sell TikTok and its code “so that the app can be rebuilt from the ground up to remove any trace of CCP influence.”
“Or 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,” he wrote.
“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," he wrote.
TikTok has rejected claims that it has shared user data with the Chinese government or that it would do so if asked. The company says it has not censored videos at the request of Chinese authorities and insists it is not a national-security threat.
Mnuchin told CNBC over the weekend that the Treasury had received the proposal, and said that it included a commitment to create TikTok Global as a US-headquartered company with 20,000 news jobs.
Mnuchin also explained the bid will be evaluated in a two-part process: First will come the CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) review, followed by a National Security Review.
The deadline is Sept. 20, 2020.
Fox News’ Matthew Kazin, Suzanne O’Halloran and The Associated Press contributed to this report.