ByteDance agrees to Divest their U.S. Operations of TikTok Completely as Twists and Turns in this story continue to emerge
On Friday Patently Apple posted a report titled "U.S. President Trump may announce that TikTok has to be sold to a U.S. Company and the odds are that it could be …" Microsoft. We didn't want to over commit to Microsoft because it was only a rumor at that point, albeit a serious one. We're now learning that Microsoft will play a major role in any future announcement, but not necessarily an acquisition.
As we await the official word from President Trump who is continually commenting that the executive order is coming, China's ByteDance has reportedly agreed to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok completely in a bid to save a deal with the White House, reports Reuters in an "Exclusive" report.
Reuters further states that "U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. ByteDance’s concession will test whether Trump’s threat to ban TikTok is a negotiating tactic, or whether he is intent on cracking down on a social media app that has up to 80 million daily active users in the United States.
ByteDance was previously seeking to keep a minority stake in the U.S. business of TikTok, which the White House had rejected. Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft Corp would take over TikTok in the United States, the sources said.
Now a new twist has surfaced. According to Reuters: "Under ByteDance’s new proposal, Microsoft, which also owns professional social media network LinkedIn, will be in charge of protecting all of TikTok’s U.S. user data, the sources said." That twist in the plan would allow for a U.S. company other than Microsoft to take over TikTok in the United States.
Another twist, according to Reuters, is that "ByteDance did not seek approval for the acquisition from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals for potential national security risks. Reuters reported last year that CFIUS had opened an investigation into TikTok." That's not something that a foreign company accidentally forgets, which makes the case for the U.S. President to move on this issue as he's about to do.
The United States has been increasingly scrutinizing app developers over the personal data they handle, especially if some of it involves U.S. military or intelligence personnel. Ordering the divestment of TikTok would not be the first time the White House has taken action over such concerns. For more on this interesting story, read the full Reuters report.