The Wall Street Journal reports that negotiations to acquire TikTok's US operations - Walmart and Microsoft have teamed up for one bid, with Walmart virtually salivating over getting access to all the app's young customers - "have hit a snag over the question of whether the app’s core algorithms can be included as part of a deal."
According to the story, "The algorithms, which determine the videos served to users and are seen as TikTok’s secret sauce, were considered part of the deal negotiations up until Friday, when the Chinese government issued new restrictions on the export of artificial-intelligence technology, according to people familiar with the matter.
"Now both sides are trying to figure out whether the order means the algorithms need Chinese government approval for transfer, and if so, whether Beijing would sign off. The complexity involved has reduced the chances that a deal could be completed soon."
The situation remains a political hot potato: "The Trump administration has ordered the Chinese company to unload the platform’s American operations by mid-September or have it shut out of the U.S. market entirely. The administration has cited censorship and data-security concerns as reasons to force the sale. Chinese commentators have described the Trump administration’s demand as an attempt by the U.S. government to appropriate Chinese technology in a forced fire sale."