TikTok’s history in America and the prospect of a deal is already complicated enough, but Beijing might soon make it even more convoluted than before. According to a new rule passed by the regime, China’s Ministry of Commerce has updated its export controls(you’d need to know Chinese to read it though) to include AI based technologies, something that ByteDance says it will strictly follow.
Seeing how ByteDance dabbles into the field of AI quite extensively, and how TikTok leverages the technology to provide customized content to users, China’s official Xinhua news agency quoted scholar Cui Fan as saying the updated rules could apply to the company.
This means that Beijing will reportedly have a say in the sale of TikTok, something that can’t be good news for American companies seeking to acquire the platform. ByteDance has already said in a statement that it plans to “strictly follow” the new rules, which shows that the company is already preparing for new restrictions placed on its exports.
This comes curiously close to TikTok’s acquisition by an American company (still undecided), as ByteDance noted a few days back that a deal might be around the corner. While the company and its platform TikTok had been performing exceptionally well worldwide, accusations about the app being a security threat have led to countries rethinking their stance on whether it should be allowed to operate at all. The precedent was set by India when it decided to formally ban TikTok and 58 other apps earlier this year after dispute with neighbouring country China.
The platform’s journey in the U.S. hasn’t been so straightforward either. First, Trump noted that a ban might be around the corner weeks ago, later retracting his statement and saying that he’d be fine with letting TikTok operate in U.S. as long as an American company controls it, and gives U.S. a part of the deal. This was to followed by a deadline for 15th September, which was later extended.
Now, several companies have shown interest in acquiring the platform, including Microsoft, Walmart and Twitter. No deal has been announced until now because of the complications surrounding an acquisition. This new change by Beijing will make the process even more difficult.