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NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump said he will take action as soon as Saturday to ban TikTok, a popular Chinese-owned video app that has been a source of national security and censorship concerns.

Trump’s comments came after published reports that the administration is planning to order China’s ByteDance to sell TikTok.

There were also reports Friday that software giant Microsoft is in talks to buy the app.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters Friday on Air Force One as he returned from Florida.

Trump said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the action, insisting, “I have that authority.” He added, “It’s going to be signed tomorrow.”

Reports by Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources said the administration could soon announce a decision ordering ByteDance to divest its ownership in TikTok.

There have been reports of U.S. tech giants and financial firms being interested in buying or investing in TikTok as the Trump administration sets its sights on the app. The New York Times and Fox Business, citing an unidentified source, reported Friday that Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok. Microsoft declined to comment.

TikTok issued a statement Friday saying that, “While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”

ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought, a video service popular with teens in the U.S. and Europe, and combined the two. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.

TikTok’s fun, goofy videos and ease of use has made it immensely popular, and U.S. tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see it as a competitive threat. It has said it has tens of millions of U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally.

But its Chinese ownership has raised concerns about the censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government, and the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials.

TikTok maintains it doesn’t censor videos based on topics sensitive to China and it would not give the Chinese government access to U.S. user data even if asked. The company has hired a U.S. CEO, a former top Disney executive, in an attempt to distance itself from its Chinese ownership.

U.S. national-security officials have been reviewing the acquisition in recent months, while U.S. armed forces have banned their employees from installing TikTok on government-issued phones. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the U.S. was considering banning TikTok.

These national-security worries parallel a broader U.S. security crackdown on Chinese companies, including telecom providers Huawei and ZTE. The Trump administration has ordered that the U.S. stop funding equipment from those providers in U.S. networks. It has also tried to steer allies away from Huawei because of worries about the Chinese government’s access to data, which the companies have denied it has.

The Trump administration has stepped in before to block or dissolve deals on national-security concerns, including stopping Singapore’s Broadcom from its $117 billion bid for U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm in 2018 in an effort to help retain U.S. leadership in the telecom space. It also told China’s Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. to sell off its 2016 purchase of gay dating app Grindr.

Other countries are also taking action against TikTok. India this month banned dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok, citing privacy concerns, amid tensions between the countries.


Associated Press writers Kevin Freking aboard Air Force One and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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We’re Making It Possible: US Should Get A Cut Of TikTok Sale To Microsoft, Trump Says

President Donald Trump said Monday that part of TikTok’s potential sale to Microsoft should go to the United States government.

“I did say that ‘If you buy it…a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen.’ Right now they don’t have any rights unless we give it to them,” the president told reporters at the White House, referring to the potential sale of the Chinese social media app.

Lawmakers and officials believe the video streaming app constitutes a national security threat to the U.S. (RELATED: Trump On TikTok: ‘We’re Banning Them From The United States’)


FILE PHOTO: A TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Trump supports Microsoft purchasing the app from parent company ByteDance, provided the deal is finalized by mid-September, Reuters reported Monday. The U.S. Treasury and the Committee on Foreign Investments set the September 15 deadline, the report noted.

The president spoke with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella over the weekend, Microsoft said in a statement Sunday.

“The two companies have provided notice of their intent to explore a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets,” the statement reads.

Microsoft would recruit minority partners to participate in the sale, according to the statement.

Trump indicated to reporters on Friday night that he will ban TikTok through emergency economic powers or through an executive order, CNN reported.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters while aboard Air Force One, the report noted. “I have that authority.”

National security experts warn that TikTok, Huawei, and other Chinese tech companies are risks to the U.S. Americans should download the app “only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested during a July 7 Fox News interview.

U.S. officials have so far not found evidence that TikTok is providing personal user data to the Chinese Communist Party.

Neither the White House nor Microsoft have responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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