President Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. residents from doing any business with TikTok or the apps’ Chinese owner ByteDance 45 days from now.
Trump said the U.S. "must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security".
The EO comes as Trump has demanded the divestment of the popular video app, citing national security risks to the U.S, and threatens penalties on any U.S. resident or company that engages in any transactions with TikTok or ByteDance after the order takes effect.
"This mobile application may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party," Trump said in the order, released Thursday by the White House and seen by Bloomberg.
The data collection through TikTok “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."
TikTok has denied accusations it is controlled by or shares data with the Chinese government.
The order released today reads: "I, Donald J Trump President of the United States of America, find that additional steps must be taken to deal with the national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and services....Specifically, the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy.
"At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, Tik Tok."
He has also banned WeChat.
The President claims the app’s data collection "threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americas’ 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."
And now we wait for China’s response to this latest escalation, even if so far Beijing has indicated it is willing to be a pushover when it comes to Trump’s pre-election campaigning and is unwilling to aggressively pursue any retaliation.
In kneejerk reaction, Tencent shares dropped after signed an executive order “addressing the threat posed by WeChat." The stock fell as much as 1.5% in opening minutes of Hong Kong trade. It remains up 46% YTD.