WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Monday joined other senators in backing an American company to purchase Chinese-owned video app TikTok’s U.S. operations, while a senior White House adviser raised concerns about a sale to Microsoft Corp .
FILE PHOTO: White House adviser Peter Navarro speaks to reporters outside the West Wing in Washington, U.S. July 3, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott
“A U.S. company should buy TikTok so everyone can keep using it and your data is safe,” Schumer said on Twitter, adding: “This is about privacy. With TikTok in China, it’s subject to Chinese Communist Party laws that may require handing over data to their government.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro suggested on Monday that Microsoft could divest its holdings in China if it were to buy TikTok.
“So the question is, is Microsoft going to be compromised?” Navarro said in an interview with CNN. “Maybe Microsoft could divest its Chinese holdings?”
Navarro said the Chinese government and military use Microsoft software “to do all the things they do.”
“So this is not this is not a white hat company, right. It’s, it’s an American company… It’s clearly a multinational company that’s made billions in China, that enables Chinese censorship through things like Bing and Skype.”
Microsoft said Sunday that CEO Satya Nadella had spoken to President Donald Trump and “is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States.”
Trump has not commented on TikTok since Friday when he said he was planning to ban the short video sharing app in the United States after dismissing a possible sale to Microsoft.
Many prominent Republicans, including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, issued statements in support of a Microsoft acquisition of TikTok’s U.S. operations. Some congressional aides are worried about a backlash by younger voters against the party if Trump banned TikTok, which has 100 million American users.
Microsoft and TikTok parent ByteDance gave the U.S. government a notice of intent to explore a preliminary proposal for Microsoft to purchase the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Trump agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of popular short-video app TikTok to Microsoft, three people familiar with the matter said Sunday.
U.S. officials have said TikTok poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer said in a blog post last week that the company was committed to following U.S. laws and was allowing experts to observe its moderation policies and examine the code that drives its algorithms.
Reporting by David Shepardson, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey and Pete Schroeder; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Lisa Shumaker