WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will allow a Friday deadline for TikTok’s Chinese parent company to sell the viral video app to lapse, said a person with knowledge of the decision. But the government will continue to work on a deal that would put a larger slice of TikTok’s ownership in American hands, the person said.
The White House ordered the sale of TikTok’s U.S. assets in August over concerns that the app’s Chinese ownership posed a national security risk. ByteDance, the Chinese internet giant that owns the app, embarked on an effort to sell the app to American buyers and satisfy the administration’s concerns.
Under the terms of the proposed deal announced this year, ByteDance agreed to sell stakes in the app to Walmart and the enterprise software company Oracle. Oracle would also help manage TikTok’s data to alleviate concerns that Beijing could get access to information belonging to American users.
ByteDance had until Dec. 4 to sell the app under a White House order; the deadline had been extended multiple times. But while the White House did not extend the deadline for a deal again, it also plans to take no immediate action in response to the lapsed cutoff, said the person with knowledge of the discussions, who was not authorized to speak publicly. That will allow talks over a possible deal to continue.
It was unclear exactly how the administration would enforce the deadline even if it wanted to do so. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department said in a statement that the federal panel reviewing the deal was “engaging with ByteDance to complete the divestment and other steps necessary” to deal with the administration’s national security concerns.
A spokeswoman for TikTok declined to comment, as did Walmart. Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Trump administration has tried to limit Chinese influence in technology around the world. Officials have spent several years working to purge equipment built by Chinese companies like Huawei from telecommunications networks. More recently, the administration has targeted Chinese-owned consumer applications like TikTok, Grindr and WeChat.