Republican Senator Josh Hawley has written to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seeking clarification on the company’s plans regarding its potential acquisition of TikTok.
Hawley used the letter to encourage Microsoft to “sever all links” with TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, if an acquisition were to go through.
“Let me be clear,” he writes. “Any resolution of the TikTok investigation that fails to sever all links between TikTok and potential proxies for the Chinese Communist Party, including but not limited to ByteDance, is unacceptable.”
Microsoft confirmed on Sunday (August 2) that it was in talks with ByteDance and that the companies had notified the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) about their discussions, which potentially involve the purchase TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Microsoft added that it “may invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase”.
“Any resolution of the TikTok investigation that fails to sever all links between TikTok and potential proxies for the Chinese Communist Party, including but not limited to ByteDance, is unacceptable.”
Senator Josh Hawley
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley’s letter, dated yesterday (August 5), asked Microsoft when it plans to “disclose the identities of these co- investors, and will said investors make themselves available to Congress so that we can conduct appropriate oversight of this deal?”.
He also asked whether or not ByteDance will be “allowed to profit from the proposed acquisition” and if the United States government will “receive an appropriate share of the acquisition cost”.
Hawley’s question about the US receiving a share follows the news from earlier this week that President Donald Trump has suggested that a “very substantial” cut of the proceeds generated by the potential sale should be paid to the US Treasury.
Trump also equated the country’s relationship with TikTok to that of a tenant and landlord, stating further that the US should be paid “key money” if a deal were to go through.
TikTok has been facing scrutiny in the US for several months now due to concerns over data security on the platform, with critics suggesting that it is sharing its user data with the Chinese Government.
TikTok denies this and has made several attempts to convince US lawmakers otherwise, including spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying, a major Washington-based policy expert recruitment drive and the commitment to open its code and moderation policies to external observers.
As first reported by Law360, Hawley’s letter, which you can read in full here, also seeks to clarify what exactly Microsoft plans on doing with the data haul it would obtain, if it were to acquire TikTok’s US operations.
Hawley asks: “How does Microsoft anticipate using TikTok user data? Does Microsoft plan a greater emphasis in the future on consumer advertising? What steps will Microsoft take to ensure that the underage userbase of this application is not exploited?
He continues: “What steps will Microsoft take to ensure that no TikTok user data or inferences and analytics derived from such data are transferred, whether intentionally or intentionally, to or through Microsoft’s large-scale data operations in China?
“If Microsoft plans on training its artificial intelligence systems on TikTok data, how can any such separation even be possible?”Music Business Worldwide