US President Donald Trump has signed a decree prohibiting any transactions with ByteDance, which owns the popular entertainment app TikTok. According to the owner of the Oval Office, TikTok poses a threat to US national security. The American leader signed a similar decree in relation to the Chinese social network WeChat and its owner, the Internet conglomerate Tencent.

"The proliferation in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People's Republic of China continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States," the document, posted on the White House website, says.

The decree states that the TikTok app automatically collects large amounts of user information, such as location data, browsing history and search history.

"With this collection of information, there is a risk that the Chinese Communist Party may gain access to personal and proprietary information of Americans, which will potentially allow China to track the whereabouts of federal employees and contractors, compile personal information files for blackmail and engage in corporate espionage," the decree says. ...

Both documents (regarding TikTok and WeChat) enter into force 45 days after they are signed.

In turn, the American office of TikTok posted on its website an appeal, which emphasizes that the application "has never shared user data with the Chinese government and did not censor content at its request."

TikTok believes that "this executive order (Trump. - RT ) threatens to undermine the confidence of world business in the US commitment to the rule of law, which served as a magnet for investment and stimulated the country's economic growth for decades."

Network pressure

The day before, before the appearance of Trump's decrees, restrictions against TikTok were introduced through the US Senate. Bipartisan members of the U.S. upper house of Congress unanimously passed a bill prohibiting federal employees, including parliamentarians themselves, from using the TikTok app on government devices.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley introduced this bill back in March 2020, Forbes reports, but it became especially relevant after Trump announced his intention to ban the use of the TikTok video platform throughout the United States.

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  • © Joshua Roberts

But even before the bill was passed, the US State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon and the Transportation Security Administration banned their employees from installing the application on their office phones.

It is worth noting that TikTok, which is popular in the United States, was urged to check its reliability back in 2019. Then Senators Tom Cotton and Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the office of the Director of National Intelligence with a request to evaluate the application for collecting personal data of US citizens and the possibility of using it as a tool to interfere in the upcoming presidential elections. 

In early July 2020, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US authorities are very seriously considering the issue of banning TikTok and other Chinese applications and social networks, especially after India took such a step.

Recall that at the end of June, the Indian authorities issued a decree to block 59 Chinese mobile applications, the list of which was topped by TikTok. WeChat, UC browser, Weibo microblogging service, Clash of Kings mobile game and a number of other applications were also banned. The Indian authorities motivated their decision by the threat to the country's security and the sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.

TikTok's US arm has repeatedly denied accusations from the Trump administration. The company's CEO, Kevin Mayer, said on July 29 that social networking is outside of politics. TikTok remains a safe platform for tens of millions of American families, he said. Mayer also said that the company plans to create 10,000 new jobs in the United States through business development.

However, despite objections and arguments from representatives of the video platform, on July 31, Trump announced the decision to ban it.

According to a member of the Scientific Council under the Russian Security Council, Doctor of Political Sciences Andrei Manoilo, the American leader fears that the increasingly popular TikTok application may be used against him in the upcoming presidential elections.

“This is some kind of tool that may turn out to be a Pandora's box for them. Google, Facebook, Twitter and all other networks also collect personal data, but these are American social networks, their servers are located in the United States, while WeChat and Tiktok are located in China. It is one thing when data is collected and remains on the territory of one's own country, and it is another thing when they leave for a country designated by the enemy, ”the political scientist emphasized.

Economic question

Experts note that the actions of the Trump administration can be regarded as a new step in the trade and economic war with China, especially given the offer of the US president to American companies to buy out the business of Chinese ByteVance - Trump made such a statement on August 3, literally a few days after he announced his intention ban TikTok in the United States.

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  • © Danish Siddiqui / Illustration

During a conversation with reporters at the White House, Trump said that he was not against the application's operation in the country, but only if it was fully bought by a "large American company", for example, Microsoft. 

He named the date of completion of the transaction on September 15 - around then his decree banning TikTok in the United States will come into force.

In turn, Microsoft issued an official statement on August 2, in which it confirmed that it is indeed negotiating with ByteDance to purchase the application and not only in the United States, but also in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, as well as India and Europe. Recall, according to Reuters, about 500 million people use the application around the world, of which 80 million are in the United States, the market value of TikTok is estimated at approximately $ 50 billion. 

According to Andrei Manoilo, Trump's decision is a populist measure aimed at demonstrating the allegedly successful struggle of the American leader at the head of his administration with China.

“Now, perhaps, Americans will return to the platforms Facebook, Google, YouTube, which will increase the capitalization of American companies in this sector. It is also possible that this decision could be influenced by the dissatisfaction of the US intelligence, since WeChat and TikTok are poorly hacked and controlled by it, "the political scientist said in a conversation with RT.

In turn, the general director of the Center for Political Information, Alexei Mukhin, in a conversation with RT, was more categorical in assessing the actions of the American president. According to him, what Trump has done in relation to TikTok is called raiding in the business world.

“The logic of the American establishment has not lent itself to adequate assessment lately, because it practically does not exist. This process can hardly be called legal, since it is not. Apparently, the United States is not going to return to the legal field until it has created obvious competitive advantages for itself in all markets, including the information market, ”the expert concluded.