US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he will ban popular video sharing app TikTok in the country on security concerns that the service could be used by China to gather intelligence. Trump stated that he was considering signing an executive order in this regard as soon as Saturday.
Talking to reports on Air Force One, Trump said, "As far as TikTok is concerned, we are banning them from the United States... I will sign the document tomorrow."
The move comes following the news of Microsoft Corp's exploratory talks with the TikTok's parent company ByteDance. The US government has been probing potential national security risks owing to the Chinese company's control of the app.
Trump gave a hint on Wednesday when he told reporters that his government is considering a ban on TikTok. Earlier in July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also hinted that the Trump administration was mulling to bar the app over privacy concerns.
US politicians have time and again been criticising TikTok, of being a threat to national security because of its ties to China.
ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought Musical.ly, a video service popular with teens in the US and Europe, and combined the two. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.
TikTok's fun, goofy videos and ease of use have made it immensely popular, and US tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see it as a potential threat. It has said it has tens of millions of US users and hundreds of millions globally.
But its Chinese ownership has raised concerns about 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 that it would not give the Chinese government access to US user data even if asked. The company has hired a US CEO, a former top Disney executive, in an attempt to distance itself from its Chinese ownership.
US national-security officials have been reviewing the Musical.ly acquisition in recent months, while the US armed forces have banned their employees from installing TikTok on government-issued phones. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the US was considering banning TikTok.