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TikTok parent company ByteDance has reportedly agreed to sell its American operations to prevent the Trump administration from banning it in the US, according to Reuters.

It was not clear Saturday how the deal would involve Microsoft, or whether it would stave off a ban, but Reuters reported that Microsoft would be in charge of protecting US user data, and that the plan would allow another American company to take over TikTok in the US.

The administration has threatened to ban the video-sharing app for several weeks; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 7th a ban was “something we’re looking at.” President Trump said Friday “we’re banning them from the United States,” but didn’t provide specifics other than he planned to take action as early as Saturday.

TikTok US General Manager Vanessa Pappas said in a video on Saturday that “we’re not planning on going anywhere” and the company is “here for the long run.”

TikTok is a subsidiary of Beijing-based ByteDance, and has been scrutinized for its privacy practices and potential ties to China’s government. Pompeo has compared TikTok to Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese companies the Trump administration has designated as threats to US national security.

Last month, TikTok users and K-pop fans encouraged followers to buy tickets to President Trump’s rally in Tulsa but not show up, in an attempt to leave seats at the rally empty. Turnout for the rally was lower than the Trump campaign had expected.

Reports on Friday suggested the Trump administration would potentially force TikTok’s Chinese owner to divest it, and several published reports indicated Microsoft was in advanced talks to acquire the company.

US law doesn’t have any precedent for blocking software, the way China’s Great Firewall does.


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TikTok Owners Will Relocate to London From Beijing, Sun Newspaper Says

LONDON (Reuters) - TikTok owner ByteDance will move its headquarters to London from Beijing under a deal approved by British ministers, The Sun newspaper reported.

ByteDance’s founders are to announce their intention to set up shop in London soon, the newspaper said, adding that the move was likely to upset U.S. President Donald Trump who has considered banning TikTok in the United States.

It was not immediately possible to reach TikTok for comment.

Microsoft Corp said on Sunday that it would continue discussions to acquire popular short-video app TikTok from Chinese internet giant ByteDance, and that it was aiming to conclude the negotiations by Sept. 15.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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