TikTok has until Sept. 15 to sell its popular social media app to an American buyer, according to an order from President Donald Trump — but there might be a simpler way to keep everyone happy, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
What Happened: The Trump administration is concerned that data TikTok collects will ultimately end up in the hands of its Chinese parent and by default the Chinese government.
If data sovereignty is really the main issue at hand, TikTok and other Chinese companies could be forced to work with an American cloud provider, Schmidt said.
Companies like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google have the necessary security protections in their cloud infrastructure, the former tech exec said, adding that the American companies are also compelled to comply with American law that may prevent the transfer of data overseas.
Why It's Important: Schmidt previously predicted the future of the internet will be split. The "splinternet" would consist of a U.S. version of the internet for the western world, while China would dominate its own censored internet across Asia.
TikTok being forced to divest from its Chinese owners to operate in the U.S. appears to mark an acceleration of the splintering of the internet, Schmidt said.
"It's so easy for a country to say "'we don't like these other people,'" he said.
"But we are safer as a world because we are using each other's applications and getting to understand each other better."
What's Next: The U.S. can win "battles" it faces against TikTok and other Chinese firms like Huawei, Schmidt said, adding that it will require focus, innovation and a strong presence outside of the U.S.