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By TALI ARBEL

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.”

TikTok posted a short video from its U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas on TikTok and Twitter late Saturday morning, saying that “We’re not planning on going anywhere.”

ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought Musical.ly, 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 Musical.ly 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 company has 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.

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    Tik Tok to sue Trump for executive order banning the Chinese app over spying concerns

    TIK TOK is set to sue Donald Trump for his executive order banning the Chinese app over spying concerns.

    The lawsuit will reportedly argue that the nation-wide ban is "unconstitutional" and the national security concerns are "baseless".

    Donald Trump wants to ban TikTok 4Trump shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the relationships between the U.S and China deteriorates Credit: AP:Associated Press

    President Trump signed signed an executive order on Thursday classifying the popular video-sharing app as a "national security threat" which poses "real" risks to US citizens.

    According to NPR, Tik Tok is prepared to file a federal lawsuit as early as Tuesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of California.

    'UNCONSTITUTIONAL'

    An unnamed source who was directly involved in the litigation told the publication TikTok will argue that Trump's ban is unconstitutional because it did not give the company an opportunity to respond, and that the oft-cited national security justification is baseless.

    "It's based on pure speculation and conjecture," the source said.

    "The order has no findings of fact, just reiterates rhetoric about China that has been kicking around."

    The order has no findings of fact, just reiterates rhetoric about China that has been kicking around.

    The White House declined to comment on the expected legal battle when approached for comment by NPR.

    However, spokesman Judd Deere did defend Trump's order, saying: "The Administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber related threats to critical infrastructure, public health and safety, and our economic and national security."

    BANNED

    Trump issued his executive order banning TikTok in the US and giving its parent company ByteDance 45 days to sell the app.

    The social media app will be banned on September 20 if its parent company ByteDance doesn't sell its American operations.

    The order claims that TikTok "may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party," and specifically cites TikTok videos that "spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus".

    It also states that the company "reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive, such as content concerning protests in Hong Kong and China's treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities".

    "At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile app in particular, TikTok," the order says.

    "TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories.

    "This data 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."

    According to a news release issued by the White House on Thursday, Trump said: "These risks are real."

    "The Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, and the United States Armed Forces have already banned the use of TikTok on Federal Government phones," the statement continued.

    "The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security."

    Trump also signed another executive order banning the mobile app WeChat because it posed a "similar threat."

    4The President issued this executive order on ThursdayCredit: Office of the Press Secretary "POLITICAL SUPRESSION"

    In a statement TikTok vowed to "pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure… our company and our users are treated fairly - if not by the Administration, then by the US courts".

    Parent company ByteDance has denied that it shares data with the Chinese government, and Chinese state media blasted the US response to TikTok as "madness".

    Beijing slammed the orders as "arbitrary political manipulation and suppression" and said it would come at the expense of American users and companies.

    Microsoft said on Sunday it wants to buy TikTok's entire global operation, and the company could strike a $30billion deal to buy the app in a matter of days.

    The tech giant is currently racing against a September deadline to finalize a buy-out of the hugely popular app.

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    Purchasing the app could be a huge coup for Microsoft and the US, as TikTok serves more than 100million American users.

    It would give Microsoft a better chance of competing with major social media rivals, in particular Facebook.

    TikTok operates in 150 countries with tens of millions of US users and hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

    It was the world’s second most downloaded app in the third quarter of 2019, with an estimated 176 million downloads.

    TIKTOK: A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE WORLD'S MOST DOWNLOADED APP

    TikTok lets users create and share short videos with music and camera effects.

    It is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, founded by the entrepreneur Zhang Yiming.

    The $75billion conglomerate acquired the Musical.ly app in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, bringing millions of new users.

    It is the world’s most downloaded iPhone app — with nearly 800 million downloads across the globe, according to data from mobile research firm Sensor Tower.

    Facebook has taken notice of TikTok's rising popularity, and launched a competitor app called Lasso in November last year.

    4Parent company ByteDance has denied that it shares data with the Chinese government 4TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance TikTok ban - US is latest country to consider blocking China-made app for harvesting users' secrets for the Communist Party

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