Washington has demanded a forced divestment of TikTok in the US from its Chinese owner ByteDance on concerns over the safety of personal data. But updated export controls from Beijing last week – which cover two key technologies used by the short video app – have cast an added shroud of uncertainty over the sale, reported the South China Morning Post.
Among the newly-added export restrictions – the first time China has updated such rules in over a decade – are “personalized information push technologies based on data analysis” and “artificial intelligence interactive interfaces”.
Both of these tools are used to build ByteDance’s powerful recommendation system, which feeds curated content to users based on their interests and activity. While US karaoke app Musical.ly may have given ByteDance a foothold in the US market, it was the secret sauce – its algorithm – that allowed it to build momentum. The Chinese policy change may mean that a quick deal to sell TikTok’s US operations, by September 15 at Trump’s request, “is very unlikely to take place”, the Postreported this week, citing a company source.