Microsoft have confirmed that they are “committed to acquiring TikTok” with US government oversight, after US President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app in the US.
TikTok is a video sharing app that debuted in 2016; and quickly grew to prominence as people uploaded short comedy skits, dance routines, and singing. By July 2020, it had an estimated 800 million active monthly users, making it the seventh most popular social network.
However, many took issues with the app’s owner ByteDance- a Chinese company. As previously reported, accusations of censorship on topics the Chinese government did not approve of and privacy concerns came to a head with President Trump stating to journalists As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.”
Reuters and The Wall Street Journal then both cited contradictory anonymous reports. Reuters claimed that Microsoft were buying the entire US operation of TikTok, while the Wall Street Journal claimed such a deal had been put on pause due to President Trump’s comments.
Now, Microsoft have offered an official statement entitled “Microsoft to continue discussions on potential TikTok purchase in the United States.” The blog post discusses how Microsoft is “prepared to continue discussions” with TikTok “following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J. Trump.”
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. It 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.
Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020. During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States Government, including with the President.”
Discussions with ByteDance will be built “upon a notification made by Microsoft and ByteDance to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).” The deal will involve Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. As previously reported, Microsoft is also inviting “other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.”
Microsoft claims the deal would continue to provide the app’s services, “while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections. 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.”
All private data of TikTok’s American users will also remain in the US. “To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred.”
It should be noted Microsoft was previously criticized for privacy concerns with the Kinect for Xbox 360 and Xbox One [1, 2, 3, 4], and Cortana for Windows 10 [1, 2]. While Kinect was initially mandatory for Xbox One, until a version without it was first sold in 2014.
Nonetheless, Microsoft states “These discussions are preliminary and there can be no assurance that a transaction which involves Microsoft will proceed. We do not intend to provide further updates until there is a definitive outcome to our discussions.”
If it does proceed, and as Microsoft “appreciates the U.S. Government’s and President Trump’s personal involvement as it continues to develop strong security protections for the country;” will users trust the Microsoft-owned TikTok more? Will this lead to other Chinese-owned apps and programs having US-owned operations?
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!
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