Trump threatens to ban Chinese-owned TikTok app in US over cybersecurity risks

The popular social media app TikTok might be coming to an abrupt end — at least in the United States.

According to Reuters, President Donald Trump is considering a possible executive order that would ban the China-based service from operating within the country.

Cybersecurity concerns

Tensions between China and the U.S. have risen in recent months, stemming in part from the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on the communist regime over its treatment of Hong Kong and imposition of sanctions based on reports of human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority.

The Trump administration has also accused the Chinese government of espionage in various forms, constituting an apparent threat to national security. It is because of such a cybersecurity risk that some TikTok critics say the app should be banned in America.

ByteDance, a Beijing-based conglomerate, has owned the tech company since a 2017 purchase, but reportedly did not receive approval from the Committee on Foreign Invetment in the United States, which investigates such deals for potential national security risks.

Accordingly, the U.S. Senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs recently voted to advance a bill that would stop U.S. federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices. The entire Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

ByteDance is responding to the pressure with an attempt to sell TikTok. Reports on Friday indicate negotiations involving ByteDance, the White House, and potential buyers — including Microsoft — did not result in a deal.

“Strict controls on employee access”

Talks are expected to continue, but Trump said the same day that he could sign an executive order banning the service nationwide as soon as Saturday. A representative from TikTok reacted to the news in a statement confirming its intention to remain active in the U.S. and dismissing concerns about user security, as reported by The Hill.

“TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access,” the source explained. “TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”

Vanessa Pappas, the company’s U.S. general manager, also released a video on the app addressing the matter.

“We’re not planning on going anywhere,” she said. “We’re here for the long run.”

While the company’s statement sounds optimistic enough, avid users of the app in America might want to start looking for an alternative just to be safe.

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