TikTok: Trump signs order to address ‘threat’ of Chinese app
US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ban transactions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.
The executive order says that the United States “must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security.”
According to the order, starting from 45 days, any transactions in the United States with ByteDance will be prohibited.
TikTok denies allegations that it is controlled or shares data with the Chinese government.
On Thursday night, it issued a follow-up executive order taking similar action to ban WeChat, an app owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent.
What did Trump say?
In both executive orders, he claims to have found “further steps to be taken to address the national emergency as regards the supply chain of information and communication technologies and services”.
He adds: “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 national security, foreign policy and the economy of the United States.”
He refers to both apps as a “threat”.
Trump said TikTok’s data collection could allow China to track US government employees and collect personal information for blackmail or corporate espionage.
He noted that reports indicate that TikTok censors content deemed politically sensitive, such as protests in Hong Kong and Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs, a Muslim minority.
The US president said the Homeland Security Department, the Transportation Security Administration (which oversees US airport controls) and the US military have already banned TikTok on government phones.
What is TikTok?
The fast-growing app – which has up to 80 million monthly active users in America – has exploded in popularity in recent years, especially with people under 20.
They use the app to share 15 second videos which often involve lip syncing of songs, comic routines, and unusual editing tricks.
These videos are then made available to both followers and strangers. By default, all accounts are public, although users can limit uploads to an approved contact list.
TikTok also allows the sending of private messages, but this functionality is limited to “friends”.
The app is said to have around 800 million active monthly users, with its largest markets growing in the US and India.
Although, as Trump notes in his executive order, India has already blocked TikTok, as have other Chinese apps.
Australia, which has already banned Huawei and telecommunications equipment maker ZTE, is also considering banning TikTok.