Even as US looks to follow India in banning popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok, tech giant Microsoft is in talks to acquire TikTok’s US operations
“We’re looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday (July 31). India has banned as many as 106 Chinese apps, including TikTok, a move welcomed by both the administration and the lawmakers.
“We may be doing some other things. There are a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening, so well see what happens. But we are looking at a lot alternatives with respect to TikTok,” Trump said in response to a question.
The Wall Street Journal Friday night reported that Microsoft, headed by Indian-American Satya Nadella, is in advanced talks to acquire the US operations of TikTok. The deal could run into billions of dollars. “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,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
China-based Bytedance is the parent company of TikTok.
In recent weeks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused TikTok of collecting personal information of Americans. “India has banned 106 Chinese apps, including TikTok, that threatened its citizens privacy and security,” he told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.
Media reports also said the Trump administration will soon order ByteDance to divest of its ownership of TikTok’s US operations.
Meanwhile, Senators Josh Hawley and Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers calling for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Zoom and TikTok for reported violations of Americans civil liberties and of their close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “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,” the Senators said.
“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,” they wrote.