TikTok’s parent company has confirmed it is considering the location of its headquarters after reports claimed it was weighing up moving its offices to London.
The app is at the centre of an ongoing geopolitical dispute between the US and China, with President Donald Trump threatening to ban the app over security concerns.
On Monday, reports suggested Chinese parent firm ByteDance was considering moving its global headquarters to the UK as part of efforts to distance the app from links to China.
In response, a ByteDance spokesperson said:
ByteDance is committed to being a global company. In light of the current situation, ByteDance has been evaluating the possibility of establishing TikTok’s headquarters outside of the US, to better serve our global users.
TikTok has come under scrutiny in the US over fears that personal data could be accessed by China, something the app has repeatedly denied.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has confirmed it is in talks to buy and operate the platform and its business in the US after discussions between its chief executive Satya Nadella and Mr Trump over the app’s security.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the White House plans to take action against a number of Chinese software companies it sees as linked to the Chinese Communist Party.
“These Chinese software companies doing business in the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat — there are countless more … are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus,” he said.
TikTok insists personal data cannot be accessed by Beijing and that it has no ties to the Communist Party.
Microsoft said its discussions with ByteDance over a possible buyout would be completed by September 15, a deadline reportedly set by Mr Trump.
“Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” the US tech giant said.
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the president’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”
Microsoft said that, as part of any deal, it would “ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States”.
Despite the political sensitivities surrounding the Chinese firm, Downing Street has said any decision on its HQ would be a commercial one for TikTok.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I am not aware that any decision has been made on that.
“In any event, ByteDance’s decision on the location of their global headquarters is a commercial one for the company.”