Thursday, 06 August, 2020


Trump plans to ban TikTok, may force Chinese owner to sell it

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Bennie Garza | 01 August, 2020, 17:22

President Trump said he would ban the popular video sharing app TikTok. "I can do it with an executive order or that (emergency economic powers)" he explained.

The app is still now in use in the United States, with Trump potentially confirming the ban later on today.

As Fox Business and The New York Times reported on Friday, software giant Microsoft is in negotiations to buy TikTok's United States operations from its Chinese developer ByteDance, which is also considering non-Chinese investors like Sequoia Capital, SoftBank and General Atlantic.

A ban would further pressure TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell the app's USA operations amid national security concerns about users' personal data. There are 80 million active monthly TikTok users in the US.

Reports emerged on Friday that Microsoft was in talks to buy the app from its Chinese owner, ByteDance, reported NBC. "We are certainly looking at it", and that, "With respect to Chinese apps on peoples' cellphones, the United States will get this one right". The New York Times and Fox Business, citing an unidentified source, reported on Friday that Microsoft was in discussions to buy TikTok, though Microsoft declined to comment. TikTok tracks user location information and user metadata, and has aroused concerns about privacy and censorship. Bytedance purchased Musical.ly Inc.in 2017 and merged it with TikTok. TikTok has an estimated billion users globally.

TikTok's fun, goofy videos and ease of use has made it immensely popular, and U.S. tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see it as a competitive threat. The company has hired an American CEO, a former top Disney executive, in an attempt to distance itself from its Chinese ownership. But TikTok's future in the USA depends on its ability to change lawmakers' perception of the app as a national security threat and data funnel to China, where its parent company ByteDance is headquartered.

The Trump administration has complained that the application takes data and is used by the Chinese government.

The US has had concerns about other Chinese companies as well, such as the smart phone company Huawei, which is believed to have broken US sanctions against Iran, and ZTE, a surveillance and facial recognition company.

U.S. national-security officials have been reviewing the Musical.ly acquisition in recent months, while the USA armed forces have banned their employees from installing TikTok on government-issued phones.

Earlier this year, Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd sold Grindr LLC, a popular gay dating app it bought in 2016, for $620 million after being ordered by CFIUS to divest.

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