A White House ban on Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok could prevent US app stores from offering the programme along with making it illegal to advertise on the app, Reuters has reported, citing a White House document.
The US government aims to disrupt key aspects of TikTok’s operations and funding, according to the document.
TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance generated over $3 billion in net profit from more than $17 billion in revenue last year, with the vast majority of that coming from advertising revenue. Cutting off TikTok’s reach and advertising revenue in the US would have a serious effect on the company’s bottom line.
US President Donald Trump previously signed an executive order preventing transactions with TikTok if ByteDance did not divest the app’s US operations in 45 days (15 September). The ban left the power to define which transactions would be banned to the US Department of Commerce.
“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,” Reuters quoted the document as stating.
Apple and Alphabet, the companies behind the two largest app stores, Apple App Store and Google Play, have not commented on the ban.
While the ban would cover US app stores, the government may not be able to stop Americans from downloading TikTok using foreign websites.
TikTok has been generating controversy over security concerns – accusations of misuse of user data, censorship and of influence from the Chinese Communist Party. TikTok has previously denied these allegations, stating that American user data is stored in the US and backed up in Singapore.
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A deal to divest TikTok’s US operations should theoretically secure the company’s future in the US. Tech giant Microsoft has been in negotiations to buy TikTik’s US operations, along with those in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
However, Twitter has since entered the race to buy the video-sharing app’s US operations.
President Trump has also previously said that the US Treasury should receive a “very big proportion” of TikTok’s sale price.
Chinese messaging app WeChat has also been in the White House’s firing line, with Trump seeking to ban it as part of last week’s executive order.
The White House document was not clear on whether the Trump administration aims to implement similar measure against WeChat.