Trump issues order to block U.S. transactions with TikTok parent company ByteDance

President Donald Trump signed an executive order late Thursday to block all U.S. transactions with TikTok’s Chinese parent corporation, Bytedance, the latest move by the administration to force the video-sharing app to sever its ties to Beijing.

The order, which is likely to face legal challenges, would bar “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd” in an effort to “address the national emergency with respect to the information and communication technology supply chain.”

The president signed a separate executive order banning transactions with China-based tech giant Tencent, which owns the app WeChat, citing similar national security concerns.

He claims the apps “capture vast swaths of information from its users” which could allow “the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.” The administration is investigating whether ByteDance is harvesting the data of millions of American users. The U.S. Navy last year urged service members to delete the app from government devices.

“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 the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” the order said. The new order bans TikTok under the National Emergencies Act and is set to take effect Sept. 20, pushing back a previous deadline set for Microsoft’s proposed purchase of the social media platform by Sept. 15. Any company still doing business with TikTok in 45 days is subject to sanctions, according to the order. TikTok which features short videos that often go viral and is used by 100 million American consumers and hundreds of millions globally, has rejected claims that it sends U.S. user data to the Chinese government.

Though the social media app is owned by a Chinese firm, the company hired former Disney executive Kevin Mayer to serve as CEO and moved storage of American data from the app to the U.S. Administration officials and members of Congress have raised concerns about the Chinese government tapping into personal data via Americans’ cellphones using such smart phone applications.

Earlier on Thursday the Senate voted to ban federal employees from downloading TikTok on government-issued phones, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the U.S. wants “untrusted” Chinese apps like TikTok and WeChat removed from U.S. app stores.

Pompeo said the State Department would also work to limit the ability of Chinese cloud service providers to collect, store and process Americans’ personal information and businesses’ intellectual property as part of a “clean network” initiative, part of the administration’s ongoing campaign to clamp down on Chinese technology.

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