Microsoft broke its silence on its interest in acquiring hit social video app TikTok in the United States in a statement Sunday afternoon, confirming the talks and saying it plans to continue exploring a deal after a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald Trump.
The company acknowledged Trump’s concerns that TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance, could be sharing information about users with the Chinese government, and said it would address the issue as part of the process. ByteDance and TikTok have denied the allegations.
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” Microsoft said in a post. “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.”
It’s a sudden reversal from Friday evening, when Trump told reporters that he was preparing to ban TikTok in the U.S., and said he didn’t support a sale to Microsoft.
Microsoft said it’s negotiating the purchase of TikTok’s service in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, planning to own and operate the service in those markets if it can reach a deal with TikTok owner ByteDance. The company set a Sept. 15 deadline for the deal, and said it “may invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.”
“This new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections,” Microsoft said. “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.”
It added, “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.”
The company cautioned that the talks are preliminary, said there’s no guarantee of a deal, and said it doesn’t plan to provide further updates until there’s a definitive outcome.
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