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Open Markets Releases Statement on TikTok

WASHINGTON - Open Markets in recent years has repeatedly urged the U.S. government to do a better job of understanding how the Chinese state uses Chinese and foreign corporations to spread its influence and power abroad. As senators from both parties have made clear, the Chinese-owned video app TikTok poses a variety of potential threats to the security of the United States and of individual U.S. citizens. Open Markets believes that one option for dealing with the threat – an outright ban on TikTok’s operations, similar to last week’s action in India – would be unfair to TikTok users. Instead, Open Markets supports efforts by the U.S. government to require TikTok’s parent corporation to sell the app to a U.S. ownership team.

Open Markets does not endorse the sale of TikTok to Microsoft. Open Markets believes the U.S. government can easily find many smaller companies and other investors who would happily purchase TikTok. Further, Open Markets believes that the government must accompany any such action by establishing a system of clear rules designed to address the fundamental flaws in U.S. competition and trade policy that allowed this problem to arise in the first place.

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The Open Markets Institute urges the U.S. government to immediately take the following actions in addition to forcing the sale of TikTok:

  • Enact a coherent plan to ensure that all U.S. corporations – including Disney, Nike, Apple, and Microsoft – structure their operations to eliminate all Chinese political influence over their statements and actions.
  • Enact a coherent plan to ensure that all corporations that collect data on U.S. citizens store that data in the United States.

If the U.S. government, for whatever reason, decides the only safe way to proceed is to force the sale of TikTok to Microsoft, Open Markets demands the following conditions be put on any such deal:

  • Microsoft must certify publicly that it does not and will never again censor Chinese-language Bing searches initiated in any nation other than China.
  • Microsoft must certify publicly that it stores within the borders of the United States all data collected on all U.S. citizens living anywhere in the world.
  • Microsoft must certify publicly that it does not and never will transfer into China data about any citizen of any nation other than China.
  • Microsoft commits to spinning off TikTok as an independent, U.S.-based corporation within two years.
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The Open Markets Institute works to address threats to our democracy, individual liberties, and our national security from today’s unprecedented levels of corporate concentration and monopoly power. By combining policy, legal, and market structure expertise with sophisticated communications and outreach efforts, Open Markets seeks not only to hold today’s monopolies accountable for abuse of power, but to rebuild an economic system where progress is easier to achieve, because power is far more widely and equitably distributed

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