Following US President Donald Trump’s statement that he can ban TikTok in the country, let’s take a look at how the government can accomplish this.
During an interview with reporters on Air Force One, President Trump mentioned that he will act as soon as Saturday to ban TikTok from the US and there are several ways how the government can accomplish this.
Proposed US TikTok ban
While talking to reporters on Air Force One during the flight back to Washington, Trump said: “As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States.”
He did not mention whether he will implement it through an executive order, or another process, such as a designation, the NBC News states.
“Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that,” Trump said.
The president’s statements came as it was revealed on Friday that Microsoft has had talks about purchasing the TikTok video-sharing mobile app from Chinese owner ByteDance, a source familiar with the situation told CNBC. The source described the talks as have been going on for a while now.
A TikTok acquisition could redirect Microsoft, a major provider of business software, to consumer technology, which Microsoft has avoided in recent years by leaving the smartphone hardware, e-book markets, and fitness hardware.
Amy Hood, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, said in 2018 that the company had been constantly acquiring “networked assets” with many users, such as LinkedIn.
Meanwhile, US general manager of TikTok Vanessa Pappas said the Chinese-owned video-sharing app is “here for the long run”, arguing that the company’s staff were building “the safest app”.
Pappas added that TikTok has received an “outpouring of support” for the app, and expressed her gratitude towards the “millions of Americans” who used it every day. “We’re not planning on going anywhere,” she said.
When asked about data security concerns, she claimed that the firm was behaving responsibly.
Pappas explained: “When it comes to safety and security, we’re building the safest app, because we know it’s the right thing to do. We’re here for the long run, continue to share your voice here and let’s stand for TikTok.”
How the US can ban Tiktok
The Trump administration could start the initiative of banning the app by ordering Apple and Google to remove it from their online stores.
This can be achieved by including TikTok’s owner Bytedance to a Commerce Department entity list, and forbidding US companies from working with it. This was the strategy used by the government to prevent Google from providing its apps to Huawei.
If this is accomplished, new users will not be able to download the app on their mobile devices while existing users will no longer be able to receive notifications and install updates but the app will still be on their devices.
The US government could command Apple and Google to use a “kill switch” facility they both have that allows them to remotely wipe or prevent blacklisted apps from launching.
However, this approach may be resisted by both tech companies as they would be apprehensive to take control of users’ smartphones in such a way.
An alternative approach would be to order local internet service providers to block access to TikTok’s servers. This method would also prevent users from viewing TikTok’s videos via its website.
In late June, India banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, Weibo and WeChat, arguing that the platforms threatened the “sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”