Senator Josh Hawley on Wednesday demanded that Microsoft assure that TikTok has severed all ties with the Chinese Communist Party as a prerequisite of any potential acquisition of the social media platform.
TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance is under pressure from Washington to sell TikTok or face being potentially blacklisted in America. Microsoft has reportedly been in talks to acquire the video-sharing platform’s U.S. operations.
“It is not clear whether Microsoft is moving toward a partnership with ByteDance to continue offering the app in the United States, or whether Microsoft will be taking full and independent control of the app and its data,” Hawley wrote in a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
“Let me be clear: Any resolution of the TikTok investigation that fails to sever all links between TikTok and potential proxies for the Chinese Communist Party, including but not limited to ByteDance, is unacceptable,” the Missouri Republican said.
If TikTok is allowed to preserve ties with its parent company or the Chinese government, vulnerabilities in the app could allow the CCP to collect the data of Americans, Hawley argued.
Hawley requested that Microsoft offer details about the steps the tech giant plans to take to ensure TikTok does not share user data with Chinese stakeholders, how they will use such data, as well as disclose any co-investors to Congress.
President Trump said Monday that TikTok has until September 15 to find an American buyer for the app, and if they fail to secure a purchaser he will shut down the app in the U.S.
“Right now they don’t have any rights unless we give it to them. So if we’re going to give them the rights, then … it has to come into this country,” Trump said. “It’s a great asset, but it’s not a great asset in the United States unless they have approval in the United States.”
In March, Hawley and Senator Rick Scott of Florida introduced the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act,” which would ban federal employees from using the Chinese video platform on phones or other devices issued by the government or a government corporation.