Microsoft says it is still talking with Trump about buying TikTok from its Chinese owner

President Donald Trump said that he will ban the popular short-form video app TikTok from operating in the United States, rejecting a potential deal for Microsoft to buy the app from its Chinese-owned parent company.

Posted: Aug 2, 2020 6:51 PM
Updated: Aug 2, 2020 6:51 PM

Microsoft says it is still discussing a potential purchase of TikTok, days after President Donald Trump said he would ban the popular short-form video app from operating in the United States.

In a blog post Sunday, Microsoft said its CEO Satya Nadella has talked with Trump about buying the app, which is owned by Chinese start-up ByteDance. US policymakers have for weeks expressed concerns about the app as tensions between the United States and China escalate, with many asserting that it could pose a national security risk.

"[Microsoft] is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury," the company said, adding that it will "move quickly" to talk with ByteDance "in a matter of weeks."

"During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States Government, including with the President," the company added.

The Washington-based firm's blog post suggests TikTok could avert the ban that Trump threatened Friday night, when he said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to block the app from operating in the United States. Microsoft's remarks also come after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company's talks with ByteDance had been put on hold after Trump's comments.

A deal would create a new structure wherein Microsoft would own and operate TikTok services in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As part of the agreement, Microsoft said it would ensure that all private data of TikTok's American users would be transferred to and remain in the United States.

TikTok has previously stressed that its US user data is already stored on US-based servers and backed up in Singapore, and is therefore not subject to Chinese law as some US officials have feared.

"This new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections," Microsoft said. "The operating model for the service would be built to ensure transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries."

The company added that "in any event" it would finish talking with ByteDance no later than September 15.

TikTok could not be reached immediately for comment Sunday night, but a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business Saturday that it is "confident in the long-term success" of the app. The company has hired nearly 1,000 people to its US team this year, and plans to hire another 10,000 employees across the United States, the spokesperson said. It also recently announced a "Creator Fund" to lure top talent to create content for the app.

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