President Trump is currently threatening to ban TikTok in the United States. The app was expected to establish its headquarters in California or New York. This is unless Microsoft, or another American firm, acquires the platform.

“I set a date of around 15 September, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States… unless Microsoft or somebody else is able to buy it and work out a deal,” said Donald Trump 

Location data which is entered by users and whether political content could be pushed onto users are two concerns by GCHQ. 

“While TikTok says it would not send international users’ data back to China, there is concern it would be compelled to do so if Beijing invoked its National Intelligence Law. 

It obligates Chinese citizens to “support, assist and cooperate” with the country’s intelligence services and to keep such activity secret” 

Microsoft is currently participating in talks to buy TikTok in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsofthas spoken to President Trump about the acquisition.  

“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. 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” 

The tech giant has emphasised that “all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States”. Any data stored outside the country would be transferred to the US and then deleted from those servers.  

Microsoft has typically focused on business applications, services and software. For example, it owns LinkedIn. It’s acquisition of TikTok would mean the tech company had a greater presence on social media. The company may become more consumer focused.  

However, many are not pleased with the President’s announcement to ban TikTok if an American company does not acquire its local services. Jennifer Granick, from American Civil Liberties Union surveillance and cybersecurity council citied  

“Banning an app that millions of Americans use to communicate with each other is a danger to free expression and is technologically impractical,” 

“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,” 

Bytedance, the parent company of TikTok, wrote a brief statement outlining that they are evaluating the possibility of the app’s headquarters being established outside of the US. There is currently no final decision on this point, but sources have indicated that London could be on the list.  

If it were to be established in London, according to the China Research Group, if its cybersecurity and code was safe, it would be a welcomed investment in the country.  

However, there are opposing views also in London on the safety of the app.  

What are your thoughts on President Trump’s stance, or the potential acquisition of TikTok by Microsoft? Let us know in the comments.

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