Call for TikTok security check before HQ decision

An influential backbench MP has called on the government to carry out a security review of TikTok before its Chinese owner decides whether to base the app in the UK.

Neil O’Brien – co-founder of the China Research Group of Tory MPs – said the intelligence services should publish a report into the matter.

President Trump is threatening to ban TikTok in the US.

This has forced the app to ditch plans to establish its headquarters there.

TikTok had been expected to pick California or New York – where it already has offices – after appointing an American ex-Disney executive as its chief executive in May.

However, the US president has since given it an ultimatum to sell its local business to an American firm.

“I set a date of around 15 September, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States, unless Microsoft or somebody else is able to buy it and work out a deal,” said Donald Trump on Monday.

He added that “a very substantial portion of that price” should go to the US Treasury “because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen”.

Microsoft has confirmed it is in talks to buy TikTok’s service in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – all the members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, except the UK.

The app’s Chinese parent company Bytedance has confirmed this had forced a rethink.

“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,” it said in a brief statement.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said any decision would be a “commercial one” taken by Bytedance, and added that Boris Johnson had not discussed the issue with President Trump.

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