ICYMI, Microsoft is looking into acquiring a portion of TikTok’s operations. The potential tech transfer comes after Trump announced that TikTok will be banned in the US from September 15, unless an American corporation buys it out.
But what will this shift in ownership mean for national security and who really has control over TikTok user’s data?
Follow Trump’s threats to ban TikTok in the US, American multinational company Microsoft has put their hand up to acquire the app.
TikTok has been thrust into the spotlight for the last few weeks following multiple allegations in relation to national security and personal data threats. Consequently, Trump has said that he will ban TikTok in the US from September 15.
Currently, the Chinese-owned video-sharing service boasts over 100 million users in the US. However, a ban on the app is not unprecedented. India was the first nation to ban the video-sharing social media service, alongside multiple other Chinese-owned apps.
Ownership and Control
According to reports, Microsoft has begun making negotiations with TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance. However, this potential acquisition would raise some serious issues, including the fact that TikTok’s complete data transfer would be left up to Microsoft. Moving ownership from a Chinese company to a US corporation seems all the more strange, considering the current tensions between the two nations.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has stated they will undertake a complete security review, assuring a “continuing dialogue with the United States government, including with the president”. So, if data retention by the Chinese Communist Party wasn’t already a concern, considering their unpalatable privacy history, it looks like the neoliberal Microsoft transfer will also shift the information into the hands of the Trump Administration.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like TikTok ownership being switched from Communist China to Bill Gates/Microsoft isn’t a real improvement
— Rogan O’Handley 🇺🇸 (@DC_Draino) August 4, 2020
Trump stated in a conference that, while Microsoft is looking to acquire 30% of TikTok’s operations, he thinks that would just make things even more “complicated”.
“It’s probably easier to buy the whole thing than to buy 30% of it. Who’s gonna get the name? The name is hot. The brand is hot. How do you do that if it’s owned by two different companies?” Trump described in his address.
Sounds like he wants the US tech-giant to take the whole cake. But is that really the main reason he wants TikTok to be bought out by a US company? Probably not. He likely wants America to have total control and ownership over the Chinese app, and it’s more than plausible that the transfer will line the pockets of the US government as well.
“Whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it – because I guess it’s China, essentially, more than anything else – I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States,” Trump added.
“I told Microsoft…if they make a deal for TikTok, whether it’s the 30 percent or the whole company, I say it’s OK, but if you do that, we’re really making it possible bc we’re letting you operate here, so the U.S. Treasury would have to benefit also, not just the sellers.”
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) August 4, 2020
Microsoft have reassured that previous TikTok data will be deleted “from servers outside the country after it is transferred”. But, what’s to stop China from copying all that data over into a concealed database before the transfer takes place? It would be difficult to prevent that from happening. They have until September 15, around 45 days to figure something out.
So if this wasn’t getting Orwellian enough for you, the Microsoft transfer would mean that both China and America will have access to all of TikTok’s data.
I think TikTok should be banned or Microsoft (or whoever buys it) should commit to shutting down all the data collection built into the app.
— General Spalding (@robert_spalding) August 3, 2020
TikTok’s transfer to Microsoft would solidify their market dominance as a monopoly holder in the personal computing market. Meanwhile, their close ties with the US government intertwine with TikTok’s current problems concerning data sovereignty – specifically where data is stored and and who has access to it.
Microsoft buys TikTok and rebrands it Windows Live Movie Maker.
— Michael Gillett | #WIMVP (@MichaelGillett) August 4, 2020
Despite ongoing allegations, there is no concrete evidence of TikTok’s threats to personal data and national security. But the risk is real, considering Australia’s defence forces have banned the app.
ByteDance would acquire a major sum of money if TikTok were to be purchased by Microsoft, so it may be wise for them to cash in now, considering the ongoing dissatisfaction they provoke within foreign governments seems to be increasing.
TikTok’s operational shift into hands of an American company, does indeed have the potential to extend into Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Australia is still deciding how to go about proceeding with the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media. The conference, involving TikTok’s representatives will go ahead on August 21, and plans to discuss misinformation on social media and it’s influence in skewing elections.
— Samson Mow (@Excellion) August 4, 2020
Guess we’ll just have to wait then before we can further understand the US supported initiative… Big Brother is always watching you!