The company 'fully appreciates the importance of the President's concerns' about TikTok, Microsoft said, following a discussion between CEO Satya Nadella and Donald Trump. Despite that, it is 'committed' to acquiring TikTok's operations in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - subject to a security review.
Discussions between Microsoft and ByteDance are progressing and are expected to close them no later than the 15th September. The US software giant says it would add 'world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections' to TikTok in the event of an acquisition.
TikTok currently has about 80 million active monthly users in the US, but there have been concerns that it shares data with the Chinese government: an accusation ByteDance strenuously denies. The company also says it keeps no data in China, instead storing US data in the US and a backup in Singapore. In its most recent statement, Microsoft says it 'would ensure that all private data of TikTok's American users is transferred to and remains in the United States', and delete data from servers outside the country.
Kevin Mayer, TikTok's CEO, said last week, "We are not political, we do not accept political advertising and have no agenda - our only objective is to remain a vibrant, dynamic platform for everyone to enjoy."
TikTok's other major market, India, banned the app in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps, citing security concerns. At the time the app had as many as 200 million active users in the country.
It isn't only right-wing politicians who have concerns about the app. Last month the Democrat's Presidential candidate Joe Biden's campaign told staff to delete the app from their devices.
Update, 15:30, 3/8/2020: Reuters says that President Trump has granted Microsoft a 45-day time period in which to complete the TikTok acquisition (taking us to the 15th September date mentioned above). This deadline, say people familiar with the matter, is the only reason the President agreed to allow Microsoft to pursue the deal.
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