Washington: Any deal to sell TikTok to an American company must provide “total security” and “substantially” benefit the United States, President Donald Trump has said as he emphasised on the September 15 deadline for the popular Chinese social networking app to enter into an agreement with a US firm to continue its operations in the country.
Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok’s American business, a forced sale after Trump threatened to ban the video-sharing platform, which claims 100 million US users and hundreds of millions globally.
Citing India’s recent ban on Chinese social media apps, Trump on August 6 signed executive orders that would prevent TikTok and WeChat from operating in the US as they threatened America’s national security and economy. The ban comes into effect in 45 days.
India was the first country to ban TikTok and WeChat, citing national security concerns. India has banned as many as 106 Chinese apps, a move welcomed by both the Trump administration and the US lawmakers.
“We have a deadline of September 15. And whether it’s Microsoft, I understand — and others are negotiating — we also said that, obviously, it’s worthless if we don’t allow them into the country, so we said that the United States treasury is going to be getting something out of this deal — something very substantial,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
“What we want is total security, but we have a deadline of September 15th. I know Microsoft and others are very interested in it, but that’s our deadline. And it has to be proven to be totally secure. We don’t want to have any information going into China with what we’ve been through,” he asserted.
Trump has been accusing TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd, of collecting personal information of Americans.
TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. This data collection threatens to allow the ruling Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage, he had alleged.
TikTok has previously stressed that its US user data is already stored on US-based servers and backed up in Singapore, and is therefore not subject to Chinese law as some US officials have feared.
Also read: Twitter, not Microsoft, should buy TikTok
Responding to a question, Trump said the US is not talking to China on the deal.
“We’re not talking to them (China)…we’re talking to the companies. In theory, it’s a company, but it’s a company within China. That means China. The deal will have to be substantially beneficial to the United States, and we need total security,” he reiterated.
Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president has signed two executive orders, exercising his authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, to address the threats posed by TikTok and WeChat.
“The administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber threats, and these apps collect significant amounts of private data on users, and such information can be accessed and used by the PRC (People’s Republic of China). And TikTok has a documented history of censoring free speech to conform to (CCP) Chinese Communist Party propaganda. And we take the data of Americans very seriously,” she said.
On Wednesday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts banned TikTok from state devices.
“TikTok is a Chinese Communist Party spy tool and a cyber security nightmare for America. If we want to protect our data from Chairman Xi’s spies and keep it out of their massive data trove, we need to stay far, far away from TikTok, Senator Ben Sasse said in a statement.-PTI