TikTok to launch legal action against Trump over ban

President Donald Trump is increasingly hostile towards China

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President Donald Trump is increasingly hostile towards China

Chinese video app TikTok is ready to initiate legal action to challenge a ban imposed by US President Donald Trump.

Trump’s executive order has banned transactions with TikTok owner ByteDance since mid-September.

Washington officials fear the company may pass US user data to the Chinese government, which ByteDance has denied doing.

The short video sharing app has 80 million active US users.

TikTok says it has been trying to get in touch with the Trump administration for nearly a year, but has found a lack of due process and an administration that “pays no attention to the facts.”

“To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the executive order through the judicial system,” a company spokesperson said.

TikTok expects legal action to begin this week, says BBC Business reporter Vivienne Nunis.

On Friday, a group of Chinese-Americans filed a separate lawsuit against the president’s similar ban on the WeChat social media app, owned by Chinese company Tencent.

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Multimedia captionWATCH: What’s Happening with TikTok?

TikTok users post short video clips on the platform on topics ranging from dance routines to international politics. Its popularity has exploded in recent months particularly among teenagers and has been downloaded more than a billion times around the world.

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But Trump says China is able to use the app to track federal employee locations, gather information to use to blackmail or spy on companies.

The growth of mobile apps developed and owned by Chinese companies “threatens national security, foreign policy and the economy of the United States,” says Trump.

“This data collection threatens to allow the Communist Party of China access to the personal and proprietary information of Americans,” it says in its executive order.

TikTok claims that it has never given any US data users to Chinese authorities.

Trump’s actions against TikTok and WeChat are the latest in a growing campaign against China ahead of the US presidential election in November.

Since taking office he has waged a trade war against China.

The United States isn’t the only country introducing blocks on TikTok. India has banned the use of the app and Australia is also considering taking action.

The app is seen by some as a key tool in China’s domestic surveillance apparatus, requiring local users who have been accused of spreading malicious rumors to register a face scan and voiceprint.

WeChat is very popular among users who have connections with China, where major social networking platforms, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, are blocked.

“To have it suddenly stopped would be disastrous and frightening for people, especially in the pandemic,” said attorney Michael Bien, who represents those who contest President Trump’s ban.

He said the executive order is unconstitutional, because it violates users’ rights to free speech.

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Multimedia captionWhat is TikTok?

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