President Donald Trump has announced he plans to ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok in the United States. He told reporters aboard Air Force One he could sign an executive order as early as Saturday.
US security officials have expressed concern that the app, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, could be used to collect the personal data of Americans.
The fast-growing app has up to 80 million active monthly users in America and the ban would be a major blow for ByteDance.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Mr Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Microsoft has reportedly been in talks to buy the app from ByteDance, but Mr Trump appeared to cast doubt that such a deal would be allowed to go through. If the deal went ahead reports say it would involve ByteDance shedding TikTok’s US operations.
The move to ban TikTok comes at a time of heightened tensions between the Trump administration and the Chinese government over a number of issues, including trade disputes and Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
He did not specify how he intended to achieve what he described as a “severance,” but he could do it through executive action as early as this weekend. [Trump said], “I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order…”
It comes days after Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told staff to remove TikTok from their work and personal devices due to security concerns, according to a source within the campaign.
The US has long accused China of intellectual property theft which costs billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, something Beijing denies.
The other main concern is national security, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo having previously described Chinese state-backed tech companies as “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.”
MacDailyNews Take: Tick tock, TikTok. (Sorry, we had to.) This is a negotiating tactic designed to get ByteDance to sell TikTok outright, with no strings attached and no data transfer, to a U.S.-based company if they want to continue to operate in the U.S.