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US Senators probe potential Bytedance-Oracle deal

US Senators probe potential Bytedance-Oracle deal

Oracle to become "trusted technology provider," to Bytedance,

Credit: ID 149374130 © Bigtunaonline Dreamstime.com

US lawmakers of both major parties voiced skepticism about a proposed deal between Oracle and China's Bytedance that appears to stop short of a full sale of Bytedance's popular social media app TikTok to a US firm as demanded by President Donald Trump.

Oracle announced on Monday it was part of a proposal submitted by Bytedance to the US Treasury Department to serve as "trusted technology provider," to Bytedance, with no further details on the terms of the deal.

Trump has made it clear he wants to see an outright sale of TikTok to a US company, raising questions about the deal's approval amid concerns that US user data could be passed on to China's government.

Trump issued an executive order last month that would ban TikTok in the United States as early as September 20 if ByteDance does not comply with a sale.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who heads a national security panel that reviews such deals, Republican Senator Josh Hawley called on Monday for the proposal to be rejected.

"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," Hawley wrote.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal stopped short of demanding the deal be scuttled but sought key assurances.

"I want specific, ironclad commitments on how Oracle & ByteDance will guarantee users’ privacy, cyber security, & freedom of expression," he tweeted.

While the Trump administration has not yet said whether it will approve the deal, White House adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday said the White House is reviewing Oracle's bid, even as other lawmakers took aim specifically at the firm's own track record.

"Making Oracle a middleman won't protect Americans against Chinese government influence, and to make matters worse, Oracle has an awful record of harvesting and selling Americans' private data to anyone with a credit card," Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement.

Oracle did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in 2015, it settled allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that it failed to notify customers about unaddressed hacking dangers when it released security updates for the estimated 850 million US computers with Java SE software.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


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