Video-sharing app TikTok is facing potential banishment from U.S. app stores and a declaration that U.S. advertising on its platform is illegal as part of President Donald Trump’s executive order banning the service in the continental United States.
Trump last week signed the order prohibiting transactions with TikTok if its parent ByteDance doesn't reach a deal to divest its U.S. operations in 45 days. It did not specify the scope of the ban, stating only that the U.S. Department of Commerce would define which transactions would be barred at the end of the 45-day period.
However, Reuters reported Wednesday that the U.S. government is considering disrupting key aspects of TikTok’s operations and funding, including banning U.S. app stores from offering it and making U.S. advertising on the platform illegal.
“Prohibited transactions may include, for example, agreements to make the TikTok app available on app stores ... purchasing advertising on TikTok, and accepting terms of service to download the TikTok app onto a user device,” a White House document viewed by Reuters stated.
Trump’s executive order comes as both political and economic tensions between the U.S. and China continue to escalate.
For its part, the U.S. government has expressed concerns over the safety of personal data that TikTok collects and stores from users. TikTok officials have reiterated that U.S. user data is safely stored and not shared with the Chinese government. They see the order as a pressure campaign designed to force it to quickly divest the app's U.S. assets.
TikTok is prepping to file a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, where TikTok's American operations are based, deeming the executive order as unconstitutional.
Meantime, Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report has been in discussions with ByteDance about buying TikTok’s North America, Australia and New Zealand operations. A successful deal would make banning transactions with TikTok moot.