President Donald Trump said late Friday that he was planning to ban TikTok from the United States. The action could come on Saturday.
“As for TikTok, we’re banning it from the United States,” Trump told Air Force One reporters.
On Friday, Bloomberg reported that Trump was planning to hire Beijing-based technology company ByteDance to sell the property. And on Saturday morning, Reuters reported that in response to Trump’s Air Force One comments, ByteDance had agreed to completely sell TikTok’s U.S. operations. However, Trump’s comments on the President’s plane, which were covered in a pool report, showed that he does not support such an idea and instead plans to use an executive ordinance or economic emergency powers to ban TikTok.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok’s ban could exacerbate tensions between the United States and China. Politicians have raised concerns that the Chinese government could use the app to spy on US citizens or to spread propaganda during an election year. Two senators have also asked the Department of Justice to open an investigation into TikTok and Zoom, which has ties to China.
Last month, India banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese-owned apps after tensions along the China border led to a military clash. TikTok has resisted allegations that the app is a national security threat and found that it “never provided user data to the Chinese government” and would not do so if asked to do so.
The Trump administration has investigated various actions against TikTok.
“We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok. We may be doing some other things. There are some options,” Trump told reporters Friday. “But a lot of things happen. So we’ll see what happens.”
Microsoft was in talks to discuss TikTok’s US activities, Charles Gasparino, a Fox Business Network correspondent, tweeted on Friday. The New York Times, citing a person who was aware of the discussions, reported that it was unclear how far the talks had gone.
A TikTok spokesman said in a statement that the company is not “commenting on rumors or speculation,” but “confident in TikTok’s long-term success.” Microsoft declined to comment.
According to Reuters’ report on Saturday morning, ByteDance’s proposed sale would make Microsoft responsible for protecting the privacy of US users of TikTok, but the plan would allow another US company to take over TikTok in the United States. Neither Microsoft nor the White House immediately responded to a request for comment on this report. ByteDance referred to a video statement by Vanessa Pappas, US General Manager at TikTok, in which Pappas says that TikTok in the US doesn’t “plan to go anywhere” and “is here in the long run”.
TikTok isTreasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed this earlier this week from the United States Foreign Investment Committee (CFIUS). He told reporters outside the White House that Trump would receive a recommendation for the Chinese video app this week.
CFIUS reviews foreign acquisitions for potential national security risks. The TikTok parent company ByteDance bought the American company Musical.ly in 2017 for around $ 800 million. Musical.ly was then renamed TikTok.
TikTok has seen its popularity skyrocket over the past year, but this growth has also raised concerns that the Chinese government could influence the app. The U.S. Army and U.S. Navy have banned service members from downloading the app to government-issued phones. Democratic and Republican National Committees have warned employees. The Transportation Security Administration prohibited employees from using the social media engagement app, and Wells Fargo urged employees to remove it from their devices.
The Trump administration has considered taking measures against TikTok under a federal law called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, according to the Times. The law allows the President to regulate international trade after declaring a national emergency in response to an unusual or unusual threat to the United States. The US Department of Commerce could also put TikTok on its “Entity” list and restrict the company’s access to US technology. Adding TikTok to the list would mean that Google and Apple would have to pull it out of their app stores. Trump’s government could induce U.S. lawmakers to pass laws that also target TikTok.
Michael Pachter, Wedbush Securities analyst, said ByteDance could “take a minority stake in US operations.” This could be through a sale or an IPO, he said.
Unlike other large technology companies, Microsoft wasn’t there for longon Wednesday visit Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and Apple.
The software giant “could do this and take the opportunity to scrutinize the other guys,” said Pachter.