TikTok has said that it could still bring its global headquarters to London and that it would not give user data to China, amid a growing backlash against the app. The statements come as tensions continue between China and the UK and US. The app has become a part of that international dispute, with critics including US secretary of state Mike Pompeo saying people should only use the app if they are happy with their data being taken by the Chinese state. The backlash has led to a ban in India and suggestions that the US could take similar steps to limit the availability of the app. But TikTok's head of public policy for Europe, Theo Bertram, said that any suggestion that the app would hand over data to China's Communist Party is "completely false".
TikTok has said that it will open a £375 million data centre in Ireland. The announcement comes as the Trump administration has threatened to ban the app or have it be bought by Microsoft, following concerns about the data it collects and its relationship to the Chinese government. TikTok currently has data centres in the United States and Singapore, however the US government believes that it could be forced by the Chinese government to hand over information about American citizens based on the country's 2017 National Intelligence Law, something TikTok has denied. The addition of a data server in Ireland would mean that information on British and European users could be kept on Irish servers, giving users and governments confidence that their data is secure. Until now, that information has been stored in facilities in the US.
TikTok's founder, Zhang Yiming, has told employees that the forced sale of the viral video app to a US company is because America's aim is a "ban" on the app. In a letter to employees, Zhang said that the sale was part of the legal process and that the company had no other option except to adhere by the law. However, Zhang said "the goal" of the US government "was ... a ban or even more." Zhang told employees that the current "complex environment" presents challenges for the company, but that "colleagues have worked overtime" and "many more are on standby 24 hours a day and have been called to work at all hours of the night" to try and resolve the conflict. "In countries, such as the United States, in the current environment some politicians have forcefully attacked China, and in turn, Chinese companies, making it difficult to have a thoughtful and nuanced conversation about complex situations" he continued. TikTok is currently set to be purchased by Microsoft from its parent company Bytedance, which Zhang also founded, by 15 September.
President Donald Trump plans to announce a decision ordering China's ByteDance Ltd. to divest its ownership of the popular U.S.-based music-video app TikTok, according to people familiar with the matter. The U.S. has been investigating potential national security risks due to the company's control of the app, and Trump's decision could be announced as soon as Friday. Spokespeople for the White House and Treasury Department didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. A TikTok spokesperson couldn't be reached for comment. Snap Inc., a TikTok competitor, gained on the report, reflecting speculation that it may benefit from any move that weakens TikTok.
TikTok has issued a statement on the White House's plan to ban its popular app, saying it was "shocked" by the executive order and that it will respond in court, if necessary. The order, issued yesterday by President Trump, means that TikTok could disappear in the US in 45 days if nothing changes. "We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process," the company said in the statement. "We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly -- if not by the Administration, then by the US courts." The justification for the ban given by the White House was a "national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and services supply chain."