Microsoft is pushing ahead with its plans to acquire some of the assets of video-sharing app TikTok after President Donald J. Trump agreed to Microsoft's proposal -- but with a caveat.
According to Reuters, Trump wants to reach a deal with the Chinese owned social media network within 45 days, or the ban will be back on.
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This story developed rapidly over the weekend, as rumors of Microsoft's intentions regarding TikTok Friday (July 31) were quickly followed by Trump telling reporters that he planned to ban TikTok from the United States due to fears that the app was sharing user data with the Chinese government.
On Friday, Trump criticized the possibility of Microsoft acquiring the U.S. arm of TikTok.
But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella then reached out to Trump and discussed the company's plans with him. Combined with input from some White House advisors who urged him to reconsider his earlier decision, Trump backtracked on the ban.
“Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J. Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” said the firm in a Microsoft blog post on Sunday (Aug. 2).
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns," it added. "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.”
Microsoft hopes to negotiate and finalize a deal with ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of TikTok, within just a few weeks. The firms have been given a deadline by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
“Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020,” it confirmed. “The discussions with ByteDance will build upon a notification made by Microsoft and ByteDance to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).”
Through the deal, Microsoft hopes to take ownership of TikTok's assets in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Microsoft said in its blog post. Microsoft said a deal would result in it “owning and operating TikTok in these markets.”
It added: “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.
“Among other measures, Microsoft 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.”
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Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, The Next Web, T3, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan!