By MARK OSBORNE and MATTHEW VANN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday night effectively giving ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, 45 days to sell the video sharing app before it’s banned in the country.
The deadline, 45 days from Thursday, would be Sept. 20, which is five days longer than the date Trump had previously used to threaten TikTok with a ban. The president has said the app is a security threat based on its owner.
The executive order officially bans all U.S. deals with ByteDance after 45 days, which the president has said is the only way he will not ban the app.
He repeated the claim in signing the executive order, writing, “TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories. 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.”
Trump said on Aug. 1 he would ban the app, popular with young people for sharing videos choreographed to music. The app has been downloaded 175 million times in the United States, according to the executive order.
“These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic,” a TikTok spokesperson said Aug. 1 after the president said he would ban the app. “We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our U.S. team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports U.S. creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the U.S. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
ByteDance is reportedly in advanced talks with Microsoft to buy the app. Trump has indicated he would support a deal with the U.S. tech company, however, he has also said that the United States should get a portion of the sale. It’s not clear how that mechanism would take place, or if it would even be legal.
“I told Microsoft, and frankly others if they want to do it, if they make a deal for TikTok — whether it’s the 30% in the United States or the whole company — I say it’s OK, but if you do that, we’re really making it possible, because we’re letting you operate here,” Trump said Tuesday at a press conference. “So the United States Treasury would have to benefit also.”
Another order from the president Thursday night bans transactions with WeChat, the popular texting app. The app is owned by Tencent, also a Chinese company.
Both have been targeted by the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in recent days.
Pompeo blasted TikTok, WeChat and other social media apps in a press conference on Wednesday as “significant threats to personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for CCP (Chinese Communist Party) content censorship.”
Should no deal be reached in the 45-day limit, the U.S. would only be the second-largest country to ban the app. India banned TikTok, WeChat and dozens of other Chinese-owned apps in late June.
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