Trump putting TikTok ban on hold for 45 days: report
President Trump is reportedly allowing Microsoft to pursue an acquisition of the wildly popular short-form video app TikTok on the condition that a deal be reached within 45 days.
The Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which scrutinizes foreign deals for potential security risks, gave the deadline to Microsoft and ByteDance, the Chinese firm that owns the app, Reuters reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.
The White House and the CFIUS did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.
TikTok has been under a cloud of scrutiny from the Trump administration and members of Congress over fears that Americans’ user data is not secure in the hands of a Chinese-owned app. Trump said Friday that he was exploring a ban of the app’s operations in the U.S. and expressed opposition to the idea of an American company like Microsoft acquiring it.
But Microsoft said Sunday evening that it would move forward with efforts to acquire the service following a discussion between Trump and Satya Nadella, the tech giant’s chief executive.
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” the company said in a blog post. “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.”
Microsoft said that it would complete discussions with TikTok by Sept. 15. The companies have both provided a notice of intent to the CFIUS to explore a proposal that would give Microsoft ownership of the app in United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“These discussions are preliminary and there can be no assurance that a transaction which involves Microsoft will proceed,” the company added.
Democrats and Republicans are broadly in alignment when it comes to the view that TikTok presents a national security risk. Lawmakers have argued that local laws in China present the opportunity for the government in Beijing to seize user data from Americans.
TikTok has strongly pushed back against these allegations, with CEO Kevin Mayer calling them “rumors and misinformation.” After Trump threatened to ban the service in the U.S. on Friday, the company said in a statement that Americans’ information is secure.
“TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access,” a spokesperson told The Hill. “TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
Several lawmakers have come out in support of a deal between Microsoft and ByteDance to avoid restrictions on TikTok, which boasts roughly 100 million American users. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both expressed support for the prospective deal over the weekend.
“As I have shared with POTUS & @WhiteHouse if the company & data can be purchased & secured by a trusted U.S. company that would be a positive & acceptable outcome,” Rubio said.
But it is unclear how receptive Trump administration officials are to such a scenario. Speaking on Fox News on Saturday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said that the potential Microsoft deal should be met with skepticism.
“Microsoft is the software that the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese government run on,” Navarro said.