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Microsoft has until Sept. 15 to resolve a lot of thorny questions if it wants to buy TikTok


There are still a number of questions that need to be answered before Microsoft can seal a deal to acquire TikTok’s U. S. operations.
Microsoft and the U. S. government have agreed to a six-week time frame to wrap up deal discussions around buying TikTok’s U. S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations.
That’s not a lot of time to answer many questions that will be essential to getting a deal done.
While the companies have been talking about a deal for weeks already, according to people familiar with the matter, there are still complicated questions around about technology, privacy, leadership, valuation and ownership.
These topics need to be worked out not only between TikTok parent ByteDance and Microsoft, but also with the U. S. government. Three-way talks are never easy, especially when the Trump administration seemingly has conflicting ideas about whether or not TikTok should be banned. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said yesterday he supports a ban and wasn’t satisfied with Microsoft’s intervention. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a close confidant to Trump,.
TikTok will have to operate with two different owners to satisfy the U. S. government. TikTok is currently a global application. Americans can watch videos from around the world, and American creators can have global audiences.
If Microsoft operates the service for the U. S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand only, what happens when an American watches a TikTok video from a user in Europe? Microsoft and ByteDance have discussed ways of keeping the application together so that users won’t notice a difference.
“We will make every attempt to protect the platform’s uniqueness, and hope that users can continue to have an uninterrupted experience,” ByteDance said in a statement.
But there are complicated technical questions that all three parties will have to figure out. The idea of splitting the company is to prevent the Chinese government from collecting data about U. S. citizens through TikTok. So how will Microsoft separate and store data from the parts of TikTok it controls, and what data will it have to share with the rest of the organization to keep the service running smoothly? What about all the data that’s already been collected — will that have to be separated based on country, who will oversee that separation, and how will they do it? Will Microsoft have to move TikTok’s technical infrastructure over to its cloud services, how long will that take, and how much will it cost?
Beyond data, what about the algorithms TikTok uses to decide which videos to promote to whom — who will control those algorithms, and how will that control be split or negotiated?
“The same product operated by different parties in different jurisdictions seems unprecedented,” Michael Norris, a research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina, told CNBC in an interview.

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