President Trump has told reporters that he plans to ban TikTok from operating in the U.S. “As for TikTok, we are banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday evening. Bloomberg reports Trump indicated that he is ready to sign a document to order the ban today, either through an enforceable title or through emergency economic powers.
“I will sign the document tomorrow,” Trump said on Friday evening, indicating that a ban could come into effect “essentially immediately.”
The threat of a TikTok ban has continued since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the possibility on July 7 and said it was “something we’re looking at”. TikTok is a subsidiary of Beijing-based ByteDance and critics have mentioned the privacy practices and possible ties to the Chinese government. Pompeo also compared TikTok with Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese companies identified as threats to U.S. national security.
Reports on Friday suggested that the Trump administration might force the Chinese owner of TikTok to dispose of it. Such a move sparked rumors that Microsoft may be taking over TikTok’s US operations, a move Trump seemed to downplay on Friday. ‘[It’s] not the deal you’ve heard about, they’re going to buy and sell, and this and that. And Microsoft and another. We are not an M&A company, “said Trump.
It is still not clear exactly how the Trump administration will enforce a TikTok ban in the US. There are several methods, but a network block like China’s Great Firewall would be unparalleled in the US. U.S. law has no precedent for blocking software in such a way, so it is unlikely that the White House can immediately block TikTok with a network ban.