United States President Donald Trump on Friday gave ByteDance, the parent company of social media platform TikTok, 90 days to sell its assets in America, citing a threat to national security, AP reported. He also asked ByteDance to divest itself of any data it has collected from TikTok users in the nation.
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that he was exercising his emergency authority for banning Chinese companies TikTok and WeChat. To defend the order, McEnany cited a 1977 law, which permits a president to regulate international commerce to handle unusual threats. “The [US] administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber threats and these apps collect significant amounts of private data on users,” he said.
On August 6, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had told his employees that the plan to ban TikTok would set a “really bad long-term precedent” and that he was “really worried” about it. Though he sympathised with the security concerns of the Trump administration, Zuckerberg also hinted that Facebook could be targeted in a similar fashion by any other country in the future.
US federal authorities had last month raised concerns that TikTok could be used by Chinese intelligence agencies.
On August 5, Zhang Yiming, the founder of ByteDance Ltd said sale to Microsoft was the only way TikTok could prevent itself from being banned in the US. Microsoft had on August 3 said it was in talks with ByteDance to buy parts of TikTok.
The same day, Trump, after changing his mind on banning TikTok, gave Microsoft over a month to acquire it. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said his firm hopes to reach a deal with TikTok by September 15.
Chinese apps were also banned in India in the aftermath of the Galwan Valley clash, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed. The deaths of Indian soldiers had sparked calls for the boycott of Chinese goods and business. In June, the Centre banned 59 Chinese apps citing threats to national security and sovereignty. Last week, 47 applications, which were clones of the banned apps, were also blocked. China had called India’s move to ban the mobile apps a violation of World Trade Organization rules.