TikTok to cease distribution on Sept. 20 unless sold to an American company


Matthew Tamez/ISLAND WAVES

TikTok needs to find a U.S. based buyer by Nov 12, or be banned entirely from the U.S.

Vashti Rosa, Reporter

The Trump administration has announced that TikTok will be removed from app stores beginning Sept. 20 and updates for existing users will be halted in response to growing concerns over the app’s threat to national security. However, those who already have the app downloaded will still be able to use it until Nov. 12.

The order was issued shortly after TikTok sued the Trump administration in court last month over being denied due process. TikTok claimed that the decision to ban the app was an infringement on the company’s First Amendment rights.

“We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process,” the company said in a statement posted to their website. “For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed.” 

The ban comes after President Donald J. Trump argued on Aug. 6 that TikTok receives and stores information from American users that could potentially be shared with the Chinese government. In a set of executive orders issued early this month, Trump offered TikTok the ultimatum to either sell to a U.S. based company by Sept. 20 or be banned entirely.  

The social media platform has been given an extension until Nov. 12 to sell to an American company in order to shift some control between the U.S. and China. Recently, TikTok has been in talks with Microsoft and Walmart but has also been pursuing an agreement with Oracle, a California based software company. 

TikTok provides a platform for millions of creators, with over 60 million users in the U.S. The Trump administration has regarded the app as dangerous due to it being owned by a Chinese owned company, ByteDance, and its popularity among younger age groups. Under China’s new security laws, the Chinese government could require TikTok to share information and the app’s users may face penalties for their content. 

Ultimately, it is up to Google and Apple to remove the app from their platforms. However, if there is a failure to comply, the companies could face serious repercussions in the form of criminal or federal charges as well as steep fines. 

Questions have been raised as to how a ban on TikTok will eliminate the threat to national security. Facebook and Apple have access to users’ data and have shared data with both Chinese and non-Chinese services. 

According to the New York Times, back in 2018, Facebook came under fire for sharing collected data with Huawei, a Chinese firm. However, Facebook was adamant that the data was not stored on their servers. Adding to that, according to an article from the Los Angeles Times published on Oct. 15, 2019, Apple has also been sharing web browsing data and IP addresses to Tencent Holdings Ltd, a company based in China, as part of a safe browsing feature. 

For avid TikTok users, the situation is looking grim. There is still hope to be found with the potential sale of the platform to Oracle but until then the situation remains uncertain.