Trump Orders TikTok Must Be Sold Within 90 Days

President says there’s “credible evidence” the popular video app poses a national security threat

donald trump tiktok

President Trump on Friday night ordered TikTok’s parent company, Beijing-based Bytedance, to sell the popular video app’s U.S. operations within 90 days, saying there is “credible evidence” TikTok “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.”

Trump’s order comes a week after he signed a different executive order, effectively banning the app from being used in the U.S. by mid-September. The new order buys Bytedance a bit more time to work out a deal to sell its U.S. operations.

In Friday’s order, the president said Bytedance must submit a weekly report to The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States on its divestment efforts. Friday’s order also said Bytedance, in order to complete its sale, must show it has “destroyed all data” tied to American users.

Bytedance has been working to quickly offload TikTok’s U.S. business in recent weeks, with Microsoft emerging as the frontrunner.

Despite TikTok’s popularity, critics have grown increasingly concerned the app doubles as a data collection tool for China’s communist government. TikTok has denied ever sharing user data with Chinese authorities. But Stratechery’s Ben Thompson recently pointed out TikTok’s privacy policy explicitly says it “may share” user information “with a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate of our corporate group,” which, based on how companies operate in China, means data can be sent to government authorities.

“It is important to note, this would be the case even if the privacy policy were not so honest. All Chinese Internet companies are compelled by the country’s National Intelligence Law to turn over any and all data that the government demands, and that power is not limited by China’s borders,” Thompson explained further. “Moreover, this requisition of data is not subject to warrants or courts, as is the case with U.S. government requests for data from Facebook or any other entity.”

Along these lines, President Trump has said the app will be jettisoned from the U.S. on Sept. 15, barring a sale to a U.S. firm, due to national security concerns.

One Reddit user recently reverse-engineered TikTok to show what the app collects from its users — highlighting information Bytedance could be compelled to share with China’s government, based on the country’s laws. The app collects a wide range of information from users, according to the independent review, including IP and MAC addresses, GPS location, and other apps that are installed on a user’s phone, among other data points.



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