President Donald Trump warned on Friday that he will ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok from operating in the U.S. after he rejected a potential deal for Microsoft to buy the app from the Chinese-owned parent company.
Trump told reporters while aboard Air Force One that he could use his emergency economic powers on executive order, and he said that “as far as TikTok is concerned, they’re banning them from the United States”. Although it remains unclear what such an order would look like, and when and if it might face some legal challenges, he said that he has that authority.
People working on the issue within his administration were expecting the President to sign the order and force the Chinese company that owns TikTok, ByteDance, to sell the US operations of the app – a move that aimed to resolve the concerns that the foreign-owned TikTok may be a national security risk.
According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the US government has conducted a national security review of the popular video-sharing app, and prepares to make a policy recommendation to the President.
ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok has reportedly been looking into the possibility to sell the majority stake in TikTok, and Microsoft is in talks to acquire TikTok – as reported by The New York Times.
Microsoft was yet to comment to CNN Business, but Trump firmly rejected the idea of a potential spin-off deal that would satisfy national security concerns.
TikTok is extremely popular in the U.S. and other western countries, which makes it the first Chinese social media platform to gain a significant amount of users outside of its home country. Reportedly, TikTok was downloaded more than 315 million times in January, February, and March of 2020, but Trump worries that the data it collects on its US users could end up in the hands of the Chinese government. TikTok, however, has reported that it stores its data outside of China, and that it would resist any attempts by Beijing to seize the information.