Microsoft wants to acquire TikTok, Trump gives tech company 45 days

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Microsoft plans to acquire the United States branch of TikTok, which according to President Trump has to be done within 45 days. After a conversation between Microsoft-CEO Satya Nadella and the United States president, Microsoft has been given until the 15th of September to negotiate a deal.

The future of TikTok in the U.S. is currently uncertain. According to sources cited by Reuters, Donald Trump only agrees to a potential acquisition of TikTok if Microsoft closes a deal within 45 days. Last Friday, the president threatened to ban the social media platform in the United States.

Microsoft announced yesterday that it would continue the negotiations with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, after Microsoft-CEO Satya Nadella spoke to the president. The tech giant wants to conclude these negotiations before the 15th of September.

The plan is to acquire the U.S. branch of TikTok and in doing so, distance itself from the original infrastructure of ByteDance. This will ensure that all data of U.S. TikTok users are transferred and stored in the United States. While the potential acquisition amount is unknown, the estimated value of TikTok is 50 billion dollars (42.5 billion euros). Microsoft will probably need help from other United States investors to acquire TikTok.

Microsoft is only negotiating about the U.S. branch of TikTok, if it comes to a deal, the European branch and data will still be in Chinese hands. It’s also unclear how this would work if the US branch will be fully separated from the Chinese version.

The question remains what will happen tot TikTok in the United States if the two companies can’t reach an agreement. The most likely scenario is that TokTik will be banned.

Privacy issues

TikTok is extremely popular at the moment, but there a lot of doubts about the way it handles user data. ByteDance is a Chinese tech company, and the company is suspected of passing on personal user data to the Chinese government. ByteDance has always denied this accusation.

TikTok’s privacy policy states that the social media platform can collect data that users enter when creating an account, data from other social media that are used to create an account (such as Facebook, Google and Twitter) and data about app usage (the videos they watch and interactions with other users).

There are also rumours about TikTok being nothing more than spyware disguised as a social media platform. According to a German data protection website, TikTok installs browser trackers to track the internet activities of its users. ByteDance claims to recognize and prevent “malicious browser behaviour”, but these trackers give each user a unique ID which allows TikTok to link targeted data to specific profiles.

It’s not just the United States government that is investigating TikTok. The app is already banned in India and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) started an investigation into TikTok in January.