National Security

Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days

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President Trump on Friday issued an order calling on Chinese company ByteDance, which owns the popular video app TikTok, to divest from the social media platform’s U.S. operations, citing national security.

“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance Ltd. … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” Trump said in the order released Friday night.

The order cites ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of the social media app, which merged into TikTok, in making the case that the Chinese company poses a national security risk to the U.S.

The order, which invokes the Defense Production Act, demands that ByteDance divest from TikTok’s U.S. operations within 90 days. It is the administration’s latest move against the app.

The order states that “[i]mmediately upon divestment, ByteDance shall certify in writing to [the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] that all steps necessary to fully and permanently effectuate the actions required … have been completed.”

Trump issued a separate order last week barring any transactions between U.S. companies and ByteDance starting in 45 days, part of an effort to force the company to divest from TikTok or face a ban in the U.S. The president has separately said he backs Microsoft’s talks about potentially buying TikTok.

A TikTok spokesperson told The Hill on Friday in response to Trump’s new order that the app “is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection. We’re committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come.”

The short-form video app has become popular with millions of young people in the U.S. and around the world, though lawmakers from both parties in Washington have voiced concerns that the platform’s Beijing-based owner could provide the Chinese government with user data. U.S. lawmakers say the concerns are even more grave given China’s efforts to meddle in the 2020 presidential election.

TikTok has denied that it shares user information with the government in Beijing and has taken several steps to try to ingratiate itself with the federal government, hiring former Disney executive Kevin Mayer to serve as CEO, moving storage of American users’ data from the app to the U.S. and announcing plans to hire 10,000 American workers.

“For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed,” the company said in a statement after last week’s order. “What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”

– Tal Axelrod contributed 

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