The US Senate voted on Thursday to bar TikTok from being downloaded onto US government employees’ telephones, intensifying US scrutiny of the popular Chinese-owned video app.
The bill passed by the Republican controlled Senate now goes to the House of Representatives, led by Democrats.
“TikTok is a major security risk and has no place on government devices,” said Republican Senator Josh Hawley, the sponsor of the bill.
President Donald Trump, who has locked horns with China on a range of issues including trade and the pandemic, has set a deadline of mid-September for TikTok to be acquired by a US firm or be banned in the US.
Microsoft expands TikTok takeover ambitions
Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp is chasing a deal to buy all of TikTok’s global business the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing five people with knowledge of the talks.
Microsoft has said it is seeking to buy the assets of TikTok in North America, Australia and New Zealand. It has not disclosed how much it is willing to pay, though sources previously told Reuters that ByteDance executives value all of TikTok at more than $50 billion.
The company is exploring whether it can add regions including India and Europe to the deal, the FT report said.
One person close to ByteDance in India said there was a “deal in the works” with Microsoft for TikTok India but it fell through, according to the FT report.
TikTok faces a September 15 deadline to either complete a sale of its US operations to Microsoft or face a ban in the United States.
TikTok parent ByteDance and Microsoft did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.