The embattled short-video app TikTok on Friday suggested it might seek justice in US courts after President Donald Trump signed an order banning US citizens from carrying out transactions with TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance.
“We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the [Trump] Administration, then by the US courts,” TikTok said in a statement on its website.
The statement added the company was “shocked” by the executive order.
Trump’s order on Thursday came as Microsoft is considering buying the US wing of TikTok’s operations from ByteDance and has set a 45-day timeline for the deal, in a move that Trump has backed.
The executive order seems to aim to either force a sale to a US company or lead to a ban on the app in the US.
The order deemed TikTok a “threat” to national security and cited automatic data collection by the popular video-focused social media app.
“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information,” the order said. “The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security.”
Trump told reporters on Monday in the White House that without a sale to a “secure” US company, TikTok “will be out of business in the United States.” Trump threatened last week to ban the app outright, until the Microsoft option emerged.
The president also insisted the deal with Microsoft should lead to a financial windfall for the US Treasury, without offering more details, and raising eyebrows in Washington.
TikTok said it had tried to address the Trump administration’s concerns and find solutions, but the administration “paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”
The incident sets “a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets” in the US, the company added.
Trump also signed a second executive order with similar rules for WeChat, another Chinese app that is very popular in China’s mainland and other countries but has a limited audience in the US.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday that China will safeguard the “legitimate rights and interests” of Chinese companies.
“The US uses national security as an excuse for the frequent abuse of state power to unreasonably suppress non-US companies,” spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
TikTok allows users to create short videos – often with some basic effects and music – and has become increasingly popular, particularly among a younger demographic.
The military has already banned its use and Congress is passing legislation to ban federal workers from downloading it onto their official devices.
TikTok says it does not officially operate in mainland China and has insisted that while it has a large operation in Beijing, it has a US chief executive and is strongly tied to the country.