“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” Trump said in his order, issued Friday.
ByteDance issued a statement in response to the new order “As we’ve said previously, TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection. We’re committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come.”
The move is designed to effectively ban TikTok in the United States, unless Microsoft or some other company could buy the social media platform’s U.S. operations by mid-September. Microsoft has been in negotiations for such an acquisition.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Trump said that TikTok’s “data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
“TikTok also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive, such as content concerning protests in Hong Kong and China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities,” Trump wrote. “TikTok may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party.”
The order would restrict transactions — by individuals or companies — with ByteDance or its subsidiaries. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will identity the transactions covered by the executive order in the next 45 days.
Trump also signed an executive order to ban transactions with the Chinese-owned WeChat, which has a smaller footprint in the United States.
The president cited his authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act in issuing the executive order, which is likely to face a legal challenge.