Trump Signs Executive Order To Deal With TikTok ‘Threat’
President Trump has signed executive orders to ban TikTok and WeChat from operating in the US if they are not sold by their Chinese-owned parent companies within 45 days.
The POTUS threatened to ban TikTok after US security officials expressed concern that the app, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, could be used to collect the personal data of Americans.
TikTok has denied accusations that it is controlled by or shares data with the Chinese government, but it seems Trump is refusing to believe the company, as he has now given both TikTok and Chinese-owned app WeChat a deadline to sell.
The two orders, issued on August 6, state that US firms must stop doing business with the companies after 45 days, with the TikTok order prohibiting ‘any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd’.
Trump referred to both apps as a ‘threat’ in the executive orders, saying he believes ‘additional steps must be taken to deal with the national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and services supply chain’.
The president continued:
The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.
In the order regarding TikTok, Trump says the app has been downloaded more than 175 million times in the US and over one billion times globally.
The order goes on to claim that TikTok ‘automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories’.
Trump believes that as a result of this alleged data collection, the Chinese Communist Party could access Americans’ personal and proprietary information, ‘potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage’.
The president added that the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and the US Armed Forces have already banned TikTok on government phones.
Following Trump’s threats to the app, TikTok has said it remains committed to its large American user base.
According to CNN, company spokesperson Josh Gartner said:
TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection. TikTok will be here for many years to come.
The orders come as Microsoft remains in talks to buy TikTok; a deal Trump implied would benefit the American government by bringing money ‘into the Treasury of the United States’. However, the orders do not state that a certain amount of money from the sale needs to be sent to the US Treasury.
On Sunday, August 2, Microsoft said it was pushing forward with talks to acquire TikTok following a conversation between CEO Satya Nadella and Trump.
WeChat, an group chat app owned by Tencent, allows its users to transfer funds to each other. Similarly to TikTok, Trump’s order states it will ban financial transactions with Tencent unless it is sold to the US.
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