US has authority to ban TikTok, Trump administration says

Tik Tok America

TikTok poses a threat to US national security, government lawyers say.

James Martin/CNET

The Trump administration said Friday it has the authority to ban Americans’ use of the TikTok, saying in a court filing that the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app poses a national security threat because of its relationship with the Chinese government.

Trump administration lawyers said in a filing Friday with the US District Court in Washington DC that the US government should be allowed to impose restrictions on the app that will make it unusable in the US next month. The proposed restrictions are in line with the president’s authority to protect US national security and limiting those powers run contrary to the law and past rulings, US government lawyers said.

“The President should not be prevented from regulating national-security threats simply because a foreign adversary cloaks its activities within a media company,” government lawyers said in a 46-page filing.

An executive order President Donald Trump signed in August bars any US transactions with TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, saying that the data TikTok collects “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information” and could allow China to track the location of federal employees and contractors. In September, a federal judged granted TikTok’s request for a preliminary injunction against the order.

A separate executive order, issued Aug. 14, ordered ByteDance to sell its US operations by Nov. 12, leading to a potential deal with Oracle, which is currently up in the air. 

TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but has said it has never turned over US user data to the Chinese government and wouldn’t do so even if it were asked.

TikTok is challenging the executive order, arguing that Trump didn’t follow due process or provide evidence that TikTok was an actual threat.

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