TikTok Threatens to Sue Over Trump Plan to Ban App

The executive order at issue allows time for Microsoft to purchase TikTok by next month.

A man opens social media app TikTok on his cellphone in Islamabad, Pakistan, last month. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Saying the order was issued without giving due process to the company, TikTok on Friday threatened legal action over President Donald Trump’s executive action that would ban the platform’s parent company from doing business in the United States.

“This executive order risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth,” TikTok said in a statement Friday. “And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly — if not by the administration than by the U.S. courts.”

Citing concerns about data security, Trump issued an order late Thursday night that would ban U.S. companies and individuals from doing business with ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok. Such a ban would effectively ban the application in the United States. The order doesn’t take effect until next month.

Lawmakers and government officials have expressed concerns that because of the relationship between Chinese firms and the country’s government, the popular video messaging app could be harvesting massive amounts of personal data from users based in the United States and handing it over to the government.

Though the TikTokk has insisted it does not share information with the Chinese government, many U.S. government agencies and private companies have barred employees from having the video messaging service on their phones. 

“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,” the executive order states.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin condemned the Trump order in a press conference on Friday.

“The U.S., under the pretext of national security, has time and again used state power to wantonly oppress non-U.S. companies, nothing short of bullying,” Wenbin said.

The order — along with a separate one issued at the same time targeting the messaging and social media app WeChat — would take effect on Sept. 20.

That delay leaves a window for Microsoft, which has been in talks with ByteDance to purchase TikTok. In a statement earlier this week, Microsoft, which is based in Washington state, said it hopes to finish talks over buying the platform by Sept. 15.

As part of the deal, Microsoft said it will make sure private data from American users of TikTok will remain in the United States and that any information currently stored outside of the country will be deleted.

Microsoft declined to comment on TikTok’s threat of legal action.

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