Trump signs Executive Order Banning TikTok
On Thursday, President Trump imposed broad sanctions against TikTok. The Executive Order goes into effect in 45 days and will be outlawed interaction between ByteDance (TikTok's parent company) and U.S. citizens for national security reasons. This means the video service could no longer receive advertising from American companies and the app could be removed from Apple and Google's app stores. The more than 100 million Americans who currently use TikTok may no longer be sent software updates, rendering TikTok first unmanageable, and eventually nonfunctional.
"When we talk about sanctions against Russian oligarchs and kleptocrats, well, the sanctions are that no American can do business with them," Stewart Baker, the former general counsel at the National Security Agency. These same sanction are being used against TikTok.
In a statement, TikTok says it is "shocked" by the executive order, claiming the Trump administration "paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses." TikTok added that the order "sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets." TikTok is reviewing its options and want to make sure the company and TikTok users are treated fairly "if not by the administration, then by the U.S. courts."
The White House says TikTok captures vast swaths of information from its users, including location data and Internet search history. TikTok claims they collect data in the same way american apps owned by Google, Facebook and Apple.
"While TikTok is being singled out in this executive order, their data collection and sharing practices are fairly standard in the industry," said University of Notre Dame technology professor Kirsten Martin. "In fact, many fitness apps were banned from use in the military for tracking location data, but we did not ban them from all U.S. citizens."
Yet the White House says what makes TikTok distinct is that the app's terms of service state that it can share data with its parent company, ByteDance.
"This 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," the executive order reads.
On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a bill to ban TikTok on government-issued devices, as the view that the app could pose a national security threat to the U.S. gains new bipartisan support in Washington.
To bolster Washington's claims and suspicion a class-action lawsuit has begun that claims an independent security review of TikTok revealed that the app is siphoning data, including the facial profiles of American children, and sending it to Chinese servers.
Microsoft has confirmed it is in talks with ByteDance to buy TikTok which would be its first major foray into a social media platform popular among young users. Microsoft already owns game console company Xbox, networking site LinkedIn and messaging service Skype. Microsoft would potentially buy TikTok's American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand services, and possibly even more countries.
Trump's executive order comes on the same day Facebook launched a new product Reels, a video-sharing app that mimics TikTok's core features.
Trump on Thursday also signed an executive order to restrict business between China-based Tencent Holdings, the owner of WeChat, and U.S. citizens.
"Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users," Trump's separate executive order reads. "In addition, the application captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States, thereby allowing the Chinese Communist Party a mechanism for keeping tabs on Chinese citizens who may be enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives."