Tags: steve mnuchin | tiktok | algorithm | purchase | china

Former Trump Cabinet Member Mulls TikTok Purchase

By    |   Wednesday, 08 May 2024 03:28 PM EDT

Steve Mnuchin, treasury secretary in the Trump administration, said Tuesday he is still interested in buying TikTok from ByteDance, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

He also said the controversial social media apps' algorithm could be rebuilt if the Chinese government bars ByteDance from selling it.

Mnuchin, who sits on the board of private equity firm Liberty Strategic Capital, reportedly last month began to build an investor group to purchase TikTok as legislation requiring ByteDance to divest its interest in the app by mid-January or face a U.S. ban was working its way through Congress. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law April 24.

The law is an ultimatum meant to address national security concerns that the Chinese government could access user data or influence what is seen on the platform.

"I've actually spoken to a lot of tech companies on working about rebuilding this," Mnuchin told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. "I do believe the algorithms could be rebuilt. So, my plan, if we were to purchase, it would be to rebuild the technology under U.S. leadership, make sure that it's all disconnected from ByteDance going forward, and that it is very robust and secure."

Even if it were to agree to divest — which ByteDance has said it won't do, according to Bloomberg — the company is unlikely to sell its core algorithm, the key technology developed in China that has made TikTok such a hit and propelled the app to more than 170 million monthly U.S. users. The Chinese government also would have to sign off on any deal.

"The Chinese government has been very clear that they won't give an export license on the algorithm, and I understand that," Mnuchin said. "We have sensitive technology that we don't want to transfer to them, and they don't want to transfer this to the U.S."

ByteDance on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law, accusing the government of trampling on TikTok's First Amendment rights — as well as the free speech rights of millions of Americans — under the banner of national security.

Mnuchin played a key role in efforts by former President Donald Trump to ban the app with a 2020 executive order, Bloomberg reported. As Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin was involved in discussions of what a separation from ByteDance would be like. When Biden took office, that executive order was pushed aside.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Tuesday he explored a purchase of TikTok but has moved on from the idea, Bloomberg reported. He said the government would be better off regulating TikTok rather than banning it or having the app be subject to judicial action.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary in the Trump administration, said Tuesday he is still interested in buying TikTok from ByteDance, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
steve mnuchin, tiktok, algorithm, purchase, china
Wednesday, 08 May 2024 03:28 PM
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