Security & Fraud

Rubio Unconvinced Oracle Can Prevent TikTok Leaks To China

Oracle and TikTok

As the deal between Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. takes shape for a minority stake in TikTok Global, one U.S. senator isn’t convinced the app’s data won’t still fall into the hands of the Chinese government. 

“No matter where the actual data is housed, there can be something in that code that sends it the other way,” Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Florida) told Fox News on Sunday (Sept. 20). “I think we have to be very careful in looking at that provision, because if there’s any opportunity whatsoever for China to continue to collect personal data on Americans, then we can’t be supportive of that deal.”

Under the reported terms of the deal, Oracle and Walmart will pay ByteDance Ltd., TikTok’s parent company, $12 billion for a combined 20 percent stake in the video-sharing social media app.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump endorsed the sale. The agreement paused the Trump administration’s threat to shut down TikTok’s U.S. operations over alleged national security concerns. The president originally planned to ban the app effective Sunday (Sept. 20), but pushed that to Sept. 27 over the weekend in light of the Oracle/Walmart deal.

TikTok said last week it had agreed to make Oracle its “trusted cloud and technology provider, responsible for fully securing our users' data” in America. As part of the deal, it will create a new U.S.-based company with as many as 25,000 new employees. 

But Rubio said that while Oracle worked diligently to craft the best deal possible with TikTok, there are no guarantees that data will not be leaked to the Chinese government.

“My concern remains this: If that code ... gives the instructions to the system on what to do,  if China continues to control the code as I understand they would in this deal, they could put in that code an instruction to secretly send data back to China, to the mainland, no matter where the actual data is housed,” Rubio told the network. “There can be something embedded in that code that sends it the other way.” 

Oracle has said such activity can be prevented, but Rubio still called for caution.

“I think we have to be very careful in looking at that provision, because any opportunity whatsoever for China to continue to collect personal data on Americans, then we can’t be supportive of that deal, so that’s the core and the crux of it that we’ll be looking at,” he added.

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