New Delhi: US President Donald Trump late on Friday said that his administration is planning to ban the China-owned app, TikTok. According to reports, tech giant Microsoft was now in the lead to acquire the platform’s US services.
Trump told reporters: “We’re looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok.” In response to a question, he added, “We may be doing some other things. There are a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening, so we’ll see what happens. But we are looking at a lot of alternatives concerning TikTok.”
The president was considering signing an order that would force China’s ByteDance to sell off the US portion of TikTok (ByteDance is the parent company of TikTok) over national security reasons. Microsoft now is in advanced talks to acquire US operations, a deal that could run into billions of dollars.
This order was supposed to be signed on Friday many warned that it could fall through. The reason being that Trump was also considering some other approaches. This includes designating TikTok under an executive order which will allow Trump to exclude national security threats from US networks. He showed his displeasure in allowing a US company to buy TikTok’s US operations. According to him as stated in media reports he said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to ban TikTok.
Trump used his emergency powers in March when he ordered a Chinese company to sell its stake in a US hotel software company. Additionally, last year, Trump administration used these emergency powers to demand the Chinese owners of Grinder, a gay dating app, to give up control of the company.
Moreover, if Microsoft acquires TikTok, it would become a major rival to other tech giants like Facebook and Google’s YouTube overnight. This would in turn dramatically change the US social media landscape.
This move comes into play when there is a growing concern among the US officials that the user’s data could be accessed by the Chinese government via this app. This was further promoted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He is even in support of India’s move to ban 106 apps including TikTok which threatened the Indian citizen’s privacy and security.
Various branches of the US military including the Navy and Army have already banned the app from government-issued. Even the Pentagon has urged its employees in 2019 to uninstall the app due to concerns over security reasons.