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Bytedance Must Divest Assets, Future of TikTok in US Remains Uncertain

August 17, 2020, 03.05 PM

WASHINGTON, - Bytedance has been given 90 days by President Donald Trump to divest any of its assets to support the TikTok app in the US.

An executive order by the US President found that there is “credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States”.

Last week, Trump called the popular apps TikTok and WeChat as threats to US national security, foreign policy, and the economy.

Read also: US Republicans, TikTok, and Concerns about Chinese Interference

Although he ordered sweeping bans on dealings with the Chinese owners of the two apps, the bans have been vague.

It remains unclear what the TikTok orders mean for the app’s 100 million US users, many of them teenagers or young adults who use it to post and watch short-form videos.

Trump on Friday also ordered ByteDance to divest itself of "any data obtained or derived" from TikTok users in the US.

Microsoft is in talks to buy parts of TikTok.

Read also: Microsoft Confirms Plans to Acquire US Arm of TikTok

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s earlier TikTok and WeChat orders Thursday, telling reporters he was exercising his emergency authority under a 1977 law enabling the president to regulate international commerce to address unusual threats.

“The administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber threats and these apps collect significant amounts of private data on users,” said McEnany, adding that the Chinese government can access and use such data.

Read also: Indonesia’s Tokopedia User Data Hacked, Sold, and Shared on Facebook

TikTok said it spent nearly a year trying to engage in “good faith” with the US government to address these concerns.

“What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses,” the company’s statement said. 

(Writer & Editor: Associated Press)


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