Trump gives TikTok 45 days to negotiate sale of its US operations to Microsoft

President Donald Trump is reportedly willing to give TikTok a few weeks to negotiate the sale of its U.S. operations to Microsoft.

Following the president’s threat to ban the social media application last week, he reportedly met with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and the Washington based tech giant announced on Sunday that it is pursuing discussions to buy out the video app’s U.S. arm from its Chinese owner, ByteDance.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The founder of ByteDance, Zhang Yiming, confirmed in an internal letter to staff on Monday that the company is in  “preliminary discussions” with a tech company, though he did not give details and added that the “end solution” is not yet clear, according to the Financial Times.

Yiming also confirmed to staff that ByteDance had been ordered to sell TikTok’s US operations by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States as Trump had announced the ban following speculation about national security concerns.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters Friday on Air Force One. “I have that authority.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft is “prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” the company said in a statement Sunday after Nadella’s meeting with Trump, who may hold off the call for a ban as long as the negotiations continue.

“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,” the tech company said.

TikTok service in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and the U.S. would be purchased by Microsoft which said it plans on “completing these discussions no later than September 15.”

“This 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,” Microsoft said in its statement.

It also pledged it would “ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States.”

“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,” the Seattle-based tech giant explained.

The latest reports were panned in China where the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said on Monday that the U.S. move “exposes the US’s typical double standards in protecting fairness and freedom, and violates the WTO principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination,” the Financial Times reported,.

The White House had previously rejected a proposal from ByteDance to keep a minority stake in TikTok’s U.S. operations and Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s U.S. general manager, had declared Saturday: “We’re not planning on going anywhere.”

But some Republican lawmakers seemed to be in agreement with the president.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday that the president had had enough with the national security concerns brought on by Chinese software companies allegedly providing data to the Beijing government.

The Chinese software companies are “feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus,” he told host Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.”

(Source: Fox News)

“It could be their facial recognition pattern. It could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they’re connected to. Those are the issues that President Trump has made clear we’re going to take care of. These are true national security issues. They are true privacy issues for the American people,” he added.

“And for a long time, a long time, the United States just said, well goodness, if we’re having fun with it or if a company can make money off of it, we’re going to permit that to happen,” Pompeo said. “President Trump has said enough and we’re going to fix it. And so he will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.”


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