Microsoft in talks to buy TikTok for US operations, Trump planning ban
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Aug 01, 2020, 11:28 am
Microsoft is said to be holding talks to acquire TikTok's US operations, as per reports on Friday. The talk of this new deal comes after the US President said his administration is planning to ban the Chinese video app in the country.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft has been in discussions to acquire the US operations of TikTok, with the deal possibly extending to billions of dollars. It reported, "A deal could be completed by Monday, according to people familiar with the matter, and the talks involve representatives from Microsoft, Bytedance and the White House. Talks are fluid, and a deal may not come together,".
Speaking to reporters at the White House, President Trump said, "We're looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok,". He added, "We may be doing some other things. There are a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening, so we'll see what happens. But we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok,". China-based ByteDance is the parent company of TikTok. The app has already been banned in India along with 105 other Chinese apps, which has since been welcomed by the US administrations and the country's lawmakers.
It is to be noted that the US Secretary of State over the past few weeks has been accusing TikTok of gathering personal information of Americans. Addressing the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, he said, "India has banned 106 Chinese apps, including TikTok, that threatened its citizens' privacy and security,". Likewise, Senator Marco Rubio in a statement said, "In its current form, TikTok represents a potential threat to personal privacy and our national security. I applaud the Trump Administration for taking this critical step, but we must do more than simply remove ByteDance from the equation,". Adding that work on a legislation is being prepared, he said, "Moving forward, we must establish a framework of standards that must be met before a high-risk, foreign-based app is allowed to operate on American telecommunications networks and devices,".
In the meantime, a letter to the Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers has been sent by Senators Josh Hawley and Richard Blumenthal asking the Department of Justice (DoJ) to kickstart an inquiry into Zoom and TikTok in regard to the violations of Americans' civil liberties including their reported ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The Senators said, "Based on numerous reports, we are extremely concerned that Zoom and TikTok have disclosed private information about Americans to the PRC and engaged in censorship on behalf of the Chinese government,". They further stated, "As tens of millions of Americans turn to Zoom and TikTok during the COVID-19 pandemic, few know that the privacy of their data and their freedom of expression is under threat due to the relationship of these companies to the Chinese government,".
"Of particular concern, both Zoom and TikTok have sought to conceal and distract from their meaningful ties to China, holding themselves out as American companies. This concealment is alarming – Chinese tech firms are notoriously bound to draconian intelligence laws, media regulations, and extrajudicial pressure that compels them to censor and spy for China''s state security services," the Senators concluded.