Microsoft Pauses, Resumes TikTok Purchase Negotiations After Trump Takes a Stand

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Microsoft has resumed its efforts to buy TikTok from the Chinese firm Bytedance in the wake of harsh comments about the popular video app from President Donald Trump.

“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,” Microsoft said in a blog post Sunday.

“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” the post said. “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 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. During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States Government, including with the President.”

Reuters reported that Trump has given Microsoft 45 days to make a deal.

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Comments the president made Friday about TikTok had initially put the brakes on the deal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Trump said he planned to ban TikTok and opposed any deal to let an American company buy its U.S.operations, according to a White House media pool report.

Do you approve of President Trump’s stance on TikTok?

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” he said.

“Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that,” the president said, referring to emergency economic powers.

TikTok has since sweetened its offer, agreeing to add as many as 10,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next three years, according to MarketWatch, which published an abridged version of the Journal article.

Trump’s Friday comment was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Banning an app that millions of Americans use to communicate with each other is a danger to free expression and is technologically impractical,” Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel for the ACLU, said, according to the BBC.

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“Shutting one platform down, even if it were legally possible to do so, harms freedom of speech online and does nothing to resolve the broader problem of unjustified government surveillance,” she said.

During an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration is acting amid broader concerns about doing business with China.

“Well, here’s what I hope that the American people will come to recognize. These Chinese software companies doing business in the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat — there are countless more — as [White House trade adviser] Peter Navarro said, are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus,” Pompeo said.

“Could be their facial recognition patterns. 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,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said Trump no longer will allow personal information to be compromised and is standing up to China.

“These are true national security issues. They are true privacy issues for the American people. 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,’” he 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,” Pompeo said.

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