TikTok, Oracle confirm partnership on social media company's US operations

Oracle pips rival, Microsoft, to be named technology partner in proposal addressing TikTok's US operations

Oracle has been named as part of a TikTok proposal to the US Government to try and overcome security concerns around the social media platform, knocking out rival, Microsoft, for the prize.

A TikTok spokesperson confirmed it has submitted a proposal to the US Treasury Department aimed at addressing threats by US president, Donald Trump, to ban the Chinese-owned site due to serious national security concerns. While details of the proposal have not been released, all parties confirmed Oracle as a named trusted technology partner.

“We can confirm we’ve submitted a proposal to the Treasury Department which we believe would resolve the Administration's security concerns,” TikTok stated.  

“This proposal would enable us to continue supporting our community of 100 million people in the US who love TikTok for connection and entertainment, as well as the hundreds of thousands of small business owners and creators who rely upon TikTok to grow their livelihoods and build meaningful careers.”  

Oracle also confirmed Secretary Mnuchin’s [US Secretary of the Treasury] statement highlighting its role in TikTok’s new proposal. The final deadline for the deal has been stated as 20 September 2020.  

“Oracle confirms it is part of the proposal submitted by ByteDance to the Treasury Department over the weekend in which Oracle will serve as the trusted technology provider,” the statement read. “Oracle has a 40-year track record providing secure, highly performant technology solutions.”  

Oracle was one of two software juggernauts vying to take over the social media company’s US offering, alongside original bidder, Microsoft. However, over the weekend, Microsoft confirmed ByteDance rejected its proposal to purchase its US operations.

“ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft,” the 13 September statement read. “We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests. To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement.

“We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas.”

ByteDance has repeatedly denied accusations its user data could be tapped by the Chinese Government and has stressed its commitment to consumer privacy. Upon an Executive Order issued against it in August, the company said it had spent nearly a year trying to engage with the US Government to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed.

In a response dated 7 August 2020, the company claimed the US Administration had “paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses”.

“We made clear our intentions to work with the appropriate officials to devise a solution to benefit our users, creators, partners, employees, and the broader community in the United States,” TikTok continued.

“The text of the decision makes it plain that there has been a reliance on unnamed ‘reports’ with no citations, fears that the app ‘may be’ used for misinformation campaigns with no substantiation of such fears, and concerns about the collection of data that is industry standard for thousands of mobile apps around the world.

Read more: What marketers need to know about the latest social media platform

“We have made clear TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request. In fact, we make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to. We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.”  

Secretary Mnuchin told CNBC television US Treasury is now reviewing the proposal featuring Oracle with technical teams to ensure it meets concerns around keeping American consumer data safe. Two investigations into TikTok will reportedly be carried out: A review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and a national security review based on Trump's executive order. 

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