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Microsoft in Talks with Trump, ByteDance to Buy TikTok

Microsoft logo on top of the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif., Oct. 19,2018 (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Microsoft confirmed on Sunday that it is still in talks with Chinese technology company ByteDance to potentially purchase its short-form video app TikTok, days after President Trump said he opposed the idea of a Microsoft acquisition and that he would ban the app in the U.S.

“[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,” Microsoft said in a blog post Sunday.

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

Microsoft hopes to wrap up talks to purchase TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand by September 15 and might open the deal to other American investors, the statement said.

The president agreed to give ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a deal with Microsoft, Reuters reported. 

As part of the deal, Microsoft said it would make sure U.S. user private data would be transferred to and stored in the United States, though a TikTok spokesperson said that data is already stored in the U.S.

“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S.,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement last month. “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned last month that people should only use TikTok, which was downloaded 315 million times in the first three months of this year, “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Pompeo repeated his concerns about TikTok and other Chinese apps on Fox News Sunday saying the apps are “feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said last week that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. was reviewing TikTok.

Microsoft said the “new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love, 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.”

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