A TikTok Partnership

Oracle Corp has become the frontrunner in the race to do a deal with the People’s Republic of China company ByteDance, which owns TikTok, for an acquisition of that app. That status seems solidified by ByteDance having submitted a proposal to the US government that lays out the terms of a deal in which Oracle would become the junior partner in a TikTok-Oracle(-ByteDance?)…alliance.

Recall that President Donald Trump has required that ByteDance divest itself of TikTok as a condition of TikTok’s being allowed to continue operating in the United States. Trump’s objection to TikTok is centered on the app’s scooping up of a vast range of personal and personally identifying data and the subsequent transmittal of those data to back to ByteDance inside the PRC.

Recall further that three years ago the PRC passed a law requiring every single company based or operating inside the PRC to cooperate with every single request for information that the PRC’s intelligence community might have.  That would include the personal and personally identifying data that TikTok vacuums up on each of its users, including the 100 million American users.

Critical aspects of this proposed “partnership” include these two:

  • the ByteDance proposal will involve expanding TikTok’s US offices to become the global headquarters
  • hav[e] Oracle certify the security of the app’s data….

The first is an insult to our intelligence, intended as it is solely to distract from the security problem.

The second is insufficient to the point of irrelevancy. Under the PRC law, to repeat, every PRC domiciled or headquartered company must comply with every information request from the PRC’s intelligence community. It matters not a whit how “secure” TikTok’s data might be; so long as a PRC company owns even a smidge of TikTok, that company will be bound by law to submit any and all TikTok data—those personal and personally identifiable data, for instance—to the PRC’s intelligence agency when asked, and TikTok will be bound to submit those data to that company for passing along.

And that should be a deal breaker.

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