President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday banning the popular app TikTok if it isn’t sold in 45 days.
According to CNN, the mandate would subject any company that does business with TikTok or ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the app, to sanctions. However, the company is in advanced talks with Microsoft to purchase the service, which would allow it to continue functioning within the U.S.
Trump has frequently targeted the China-based business and has suggested in the past that he would issue an order banning the service. He has also repeatedly said that perhaps some of the money from the sale should be shared with the Treasury department.
The executive order did not include language that requires any money to be sent to the Department of the Treasury, although it did specify that it must be purchased by an American operation to be able to continue to operate in the U.S.
TikTok has been downloaded over a billion times globally and at least 175 million times in the United States. Despite its popularity, many people, including Trump, have raised concerns about it because of its potential for national security and censorship issues.
The mandate signed by Trump states that TikTok “automatically captures vast swaths of [details] 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.”
It also said that the app may be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party, such as “when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”
Microsoft has been public about the fact that it is in talks to acquire the program, and CEO Satya Nadella attended a meeting with Trump to further conversations about the purchase.
TikTok responded to Trump’s threats to ban it earlier this week, saying that they weren’t going anywhere after users expressed concern. U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas recorded a video saying that the service was working hard to protect user privacy and maintain best practices. She also explained that the business had plans to add 10,000 jobs in the country on top of the existing 1,500, as The Inquisitr previously reported.