President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that he plans to ban Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok from operating in the United States as soon as Saturday, according to White House pool reports.
"As far as TikTok is concerned, we're banning them from the United States," Trump told reporters on Air Force One. The president did not elaborate on what action he planned to take to ban TikTok, though he said he could sign an executive order to make it happen.
"I have that authority," Trump said. "I can do it with an executive order."
The president also said he was against a deal that could see Microsoft buying U.S. operations of TikTok from Beijing-based internet firm Bytedance. Unidentified sources told The Wall Street Journal earlier Friday that a deal could be completed as soon as Monday, although talks reportedly remained fluid.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said officials were considering banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps due to concerns over national security. Pompeo told Fox News on July 7 that a person should only download TikTok “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. have expressed concern over the national security risk posed by the rising popularity of Chinese-owned social media platforms like TikTok.
"China's vague patchwork of intelligence, national security, and cybersecurity laws compel Chinese companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party," Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote in a letter sent in October urging intelligence officials to review the threat posed by TikTok.
Company officials have denied ever having provided user data to the Chinese government.
“We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users,” company officials said in a statement obtained by Reuters. “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
TikTok officials have previously said that the company operates separately from ByteDance and that its data centers are located outside of China, meaning their data is not subject to Chinese law, according to CNN. Company officials told the news network that TikTok keeps data for U.S. users in the United States and that national security concerns centered around the company are “unfounded.”