President Donald Trump issued an executive order late Thursday prohibiting transactions with the parent company of the popular video-sharing app TikTok.
The order, set to take effect on Sept. 20, bars Americans and U.S. companies from conducting transactions with the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, citing “national security” concerns. A separate executive order with the same conditions was also issued to WeChat, another Chinese-owned smartphone app.
Trump asserted in his order that the apps “capture vast swaths of information from its users” and their data collection “allows the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.“
“The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People's Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” Trump said in the order. “At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok.”
The order comes as TikTok, which has become a viral sensation among American teens and young adults, has faced tough scrutiny over concerns that U.S. users’ personal information could fall into the hands of government officials in Beijing. ByteDance has stated it neither stores user information in China or shares data with the Chinese government.
Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he would ban the app on Sept. 15 if the company didn‘t negotiate a deal to sell its assets to Microsoft or another company. The House voted to ban TikTok on government-issued devices last month, and the Senate unanimously passed its own version of the legislation on Thursday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that the Chinese-based apps should be banned by app stores run by Apple and Google after previously saying that the U.S. was looking into banning them.
The Committee of Foreign Investment in the U.S., a multi-agency group that reviews mergers for national security threats, opened an investigation in November into ByteDance‘s 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly for $1 billion. The deal wasn’t reviewed at the time.
Trump said on Monday that he would force TikTok to close up shop in the U.S. if the Chinese-owned platform was not not sold to U.S. buyers by next month.
The president's executive order leaves TikTok with very few options outside of a sale to Microsoft. The tech giant, which declined to comment on Thursday‘s order, has emerged as the leading candidate to buy TikTok and has said it’s in discussions with ByteDance about a potential purchase.