TikTok has taken over the internet in the last year, especially during the lockdown where it gave Gen-Zers an outlet for all of their pent-up energy and frustrations. Recently, however, the short-form video app has been under scrutiny, particularly by Donald Trump and the US government, for its privacy and security practices. Despite claims that TikTok does not leak any of the information it collects from its users, the fact that the app is owned by a Chinese parent-company, ByteDance, has been a cause for concern for Trump in recent months.
On Friday August 1st, Trump announced that the US “may be banning TikTok,” which was followed, on Sunday, by an announcement from Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who said that action would be taken in the following days against “a broad array of national security risks” presented by software companies, including TikTok.
Speaking to Fox News, he said that “Chinese software companies doing business in the United States are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus”.
While the app is loved by millions of young people, and Motherboard reported that banning the app is a potential human rights violation, the threat of the Chinese Communist Party’s potential access to data has been echoed throughout not only the US, but other countries as well. In a move to keep TikTok in the lives of Americans, Microsoft released a statement on their company blog announcing that, following a conversation between President Trump and Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, they will be continuing discussion about potentially purchasing TikTok.
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” the statement reads. “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 statement also claims that, “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,” adding that “Microsoft would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States,” and that any of which is stored outside of the United States, will be “ deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred”.
According to the Financial Times, ByteDance’s founder, Zhang Yiming sent out an internal letter to staff confirming it was in preliminary discussions with an unidentified tech company, but that the “end solution” was unclear.
Microsoft stated that they do not intend to provide further updates until a “definitive outcome” has been reached, which they hope will be no later than September 15th.