TikTok may be used for disinformation that benefits the Chinese Communist Party, Donald Trump says. Image by AP PHOTO


TikTok ‘shocked’ by Trump ban order

2020-08-07 22:31:00

TikTok has responded to Donald Trump’s executive order to effectively ban the app if its parent company cannot complete a sale within 45 days – saying it was “shocked” and that TikTok will launch a legal fight against the president’s move.

TikTok, owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, called Trump’s order a “dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets.”

“We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process,” TikTok said in a statement released on Friday.

“For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed.

“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.”

Spurred by the US government’s threats, TikTok, which claims 100 million Americans use its short-form video app, is negotiating a sale to Microsoft, which reportedly is considering a deal to acquire all of TikTok’s operations.

Trump invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) in the order against TikTok, and he issued an identical executive order against Tencent-owned WeChat.

The separate orders, citing national security concerns, prevent any transactions with WeChat or TikTok by any party or involving any property subject to US jurisdiction.

TikTok said it “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, then by the US courts.”

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing on Friday that China firmly opposes the executive orders and will defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese businesses.

He said the US would have to bear the consequences of its actions, without giving details.

“The US is using national security as an excuse and using state power to oppress non-American businesses. That’s just a hegemonic practice. China is firmly opposed to that,” Wang said.

He said the US was sacrificing the interests of users and companies and engaging in political manipulation and oppression, adding that it “will only lose its moral high ground with a damaged image and a deficit of trust”.

TikTok argued that Trump cited no evidence for why, according to the administration, the app “continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

“The text of the [Trump order] makes it plain that there has been a reliance on unnamed ‘reports’ with no citations, fears that the app ‘may be’ used for misinformation campaigns with no substantiation of such fears, and concerns about the collection of data that is industry standard for thousands of mobile apps around the world,” TikTok said in its statement.

TikTok reiterated that it has “never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request.”