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TikTok threatens legal action against Trump’s executive order

The TikTok logo appears on the smartphone while it is on the US flag in this illustration image, which was taken on November 8, 2019.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

TikTok threatened legal action against an order issued by President Donald Trump on Thursday that would ban the Chinese social media app from doing business with US companies.

The app was the center of an escalating technology war between the United States and China this year. Washington had already threatened to ban TikTok in the US for national security reasons.

It is feared that the app could allow Beijing to spy on US government employees and contractors, collect personal information for “extortion”

;, conduct corporate espionage and use it for “disinformation campaigns” that benefit the Chinese government.

TikTok has denied such allegations, and Beijing has spoken out against the executive orders, saying it will defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.

“Not a proper process”

TikTok said it was “shocked” by the order, claiming there was “no due process or no compliance with the law” from the Trump administration.

“This executive order could undermine global corporate confidence in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and has fueled decades of American economic growth,” TikTok said in a blog post.

“And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free speech and open markets. We will use all available remedies to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our business and our users are treated fairly – if not by the government, then by the US courts. “

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based internet giant Bytedance, wasn’t the only Chinese company the Trump administration targeted on Thursday. Another executive order focuses on WeChat, Tencent’s popular messaging app, which claims its data collection could give Beijing access to American personal information.

The bans on TikTok and WeChat will take effect in 45 days.

Tencent is arguably a more important target than ByteDance, given its WeChat app is used by millions internationally and the company owns or invests in several large US game companies, including Riot Games, Epic Games and Activision Blizzard.

It is still not clear whether the executive order could affect Tencent’s other business relationships.

“We are reviewing the Executive Order for a full understanding,” the company said in a statement to CNBC’s Eunice Yoon.

TikTok has become a global cultural phenomenon and is particularly popular with teenagers and young adults who share short videos that span everything from lip syncing to comedy.

Though Chinese-owned, TikTok has a U.S. CEO and its largest office is in Los Angeles. ByteDance operates a separate version of the app for China called Douyin.

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