Trump likely to go ahead with banning TikTok

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PTI

Washington

US President Donald Trump has said that he will act to ban TikTok as soon as on Saturday, amidst reports of American technology giant Microsoft being in advanced talks to acquire the popular Chinese-owned video app.

Trump, talking to reporters travelling with him aboard Air Force 1 from Florida on Friday, said he could use the emergency economic powers or an executive order to ban TikTok in the United States.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” he said.

Referring to the emergency economic powers, the President said: “Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that”.

Trump also made it clear that he was not in favour of a deal to let a US company buy TikTok’s American operations.

Trump further told reporters that he planned to take action against the popular video-sharing app as soon as Saturday.

Earlier at the White House, Trump said: “We’re looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok. We may be doing some other things. There are a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening, so we’ll see what happens. But we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok”.

India has banned as many as 106 Chinese apps, including TikTok, a move welcomed by both the Trump administration and the US lawmakers.

The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that Microsoft, headed by Indian-American Satya Nadella, is in advanced talks to acquire the US operations of TikTok. The deal could run into billions of dollars.

“A deal could be completed by Monday, according to people familiar with the matter, and the talks involve representatives from Microsoft, ByteDance and the White House. Talks are fluid, and a deal may not come together,” the report said.

China-based ByteDance is the parent company of TikTok.

In recent weeks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused TikTok of collecting personal information of Americans.

“India has banned 106 Chinese apps, including TikTok, that threatened its citizens’ privacy and security,” he told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.

Media reports also said the Trump administration will soon order ByteDance to divest of its ownership of TikTok’s US operations.

“In its current form, TikTok represents a potential threat to personal privacy and our national security. I applaud the Trump administration for taking this critical step, but we must do more than simply remove ByteDance from the equation,” Senator Marco Rubio said.