President Donald Trump on Monday gave the green light for a U.S. company to acquire TikTok, a short-video app owned by Beijing-based internet giant Bytedance Technology Co. used by millions of mostly young Americans.
He was called by Microsoft and allowed the company or another U.S. company to buy TikTok, the president said.
“I suggested that he could go ahead … I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States,” he said. “But if somebody—whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else—buys it, that’ll be interesting.”
Microsoft confirmed on Sunday in a statement that the deal is under discussion and committed to complete the discussion no later than Sept. 15.
The company also promised that the process will be subject to a complete security review, economic benefits will be provided to the United States including the United States Treasury, and all private data from TikTok’s American users be transferred to and remain in America.
“Microsoft appreciates the U.S. government’s and President Trump’s personal involvement as it continues to develop strong security protections for the country,” Microsoft said in the statement.
Microsoft and ByteDance have submitted a notification to the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United State (CFIUS).
Trump also suggested that the buyer, Microsoft or another U.S. company, should buy the “whole thing” instead of 30 percent of TikTok.
He affirmed that a portion of the proceedings of the acquisition will go to the U.S. government.
“I said, a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the treasury of the United States,” he said. “Because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen. Right now they don’t have any rights unless we give it to them.”
TikTok has been banned in India since June 29 amid a standoff between India and China after a gruesome border conflict which resulted in the deaths of over a dozen Indian soldiers.
Some Chinese soldiers also reportedly died during the event, but the numbers are unclear.
TikTok has come under intense scrutiny after the Trump administration confirmed that it was mulling a ban on the operation of TikTok and other Chinese apps on national security grounds. Critics warn that the app could be used as a spying tool for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and users’ content could be censored if the Party deems it politically sensitive.
The company has denied these claims and sought to distance itself from its Beijing owner, pointing to its American board members and new chief executive. It says its servers are located in the United States and Singapore, and that it would not share user data with the Chinese regime if requested.
Cathy He contributed to the report.