Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ban US residents from doing business with TikTok in just 45 days.
The US president claims the popular Beijing-based short-form video app – owned by ByteDance – may be being used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party.
He said his country “must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security”. A statement from the White House press secretary says the government feels “additional steps must be taken” to that declared in an executive order from May 2019.
“Specifically, the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China. At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok,” it adds.
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It comes as President Trump told reporters abroad Air Force One last week that he would be using emergency powers to outlaw TikTok in the US. Over the last several months, US officials have repeatedly said the app poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “President Trump has said ‘enough’ and we’re going to fix it and so he will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.”
The firm has denied having any ties to the Chinese government. In response to accusations from the White House, ByteDance is understood to be willing to divest the US operations of TikTok to Microsoft in a bid to make a deal with the Trump administration.
ByteDance was founded by Zhang Yiming and TikTok was created by Alex Zhu in 2017 – with the app not even available in China. The app has grown more popular during the coronavirus pandemic, with 2 billion downloads in April.Photo Credit: Getty