President Donald Trump has announced he is going to ban the popular Chinese video-sharing app TikTok in the US.
The US President is ready to sign an executive order as early as Saturday to block the popular application owned by Chinese firm ByteDance.
US security officials have expressed concern that the app could be used by the Chinese government to collect the personal data of Americans.
Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday that he could use “emergency economic powers or an executive order” to ban the app.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Mr Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.
TikTok has denied any accusation of sharing data with the Beijing government. TikTok confirmed that all US user data is stored in the US, with a backup in Singapore.
The app is reported to have around 800 million active monthly users, most of whom are from the US and India.
The number of its users continues to grow worldwide, it has up to 80 million active monthly users in the US. All accounts are public by default, but users can also restrict uploads to their contacts.
It is not clear how President Trump can ban the Chinese app for the US and what legal challenges it would face.
The trump’s announcement came hours after reports broke that Microsoft could buy TikTok for $50 billion, but Trump confirmed its opposition to an operation that could bring an American company to acquire TikTok.
Microsoft has reportedly been in talks to buy the app from ByteDance, but Mr Trump appeared to cast doubt that such a deal would be allowed to go through.
A TikTok spokesperson declined to comment on Trump’s announcement, he told US media outlets the company was “confident in the long-term success of TikTok” in the US.
The announcement is the result of tensions between Trump and the Chinese government that is accused of aggressive conduct against the US government and its business.
Other states have already blocked Chinese apps or are planning to do it, such as India.
US officials have for weeks called action against TikTok due to its alleged connections to the Chines governemnt.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration was considering banning Chinese apps due to national security concerns.
Last year, the US Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States opened an investigation into ByteDance.
Last week the US government approved legislation banning the use of TikTok on federal devices.
TikTok recently announced it would increase transparency on its operations, it also plans to allow reviews of its algorithms.
“We are not political, we do not accept political advertising and have no agenda – our only objective is to remain a vibrant, dynamic platform for everyone to enjoy,” said the CEO of TikTok, Kevin Mayer.
“TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy.”
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(SecurityAffairs – hacking, China)