US ban on TikTok in China could cut it off from app stores and advertisers: White House document

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The flags of China and the United States are seen near a TikTok logo in this illustrative photo taken on July 16, 2020.Florence Lo | Reuters

According to a White House document seen by Reuters, President Donald Trump’s executive order banning TikTok in China could prevent U.S. app stores from offering the popular short video app and make advertising on the platform illegal.Trump signed an order last week banning transactions with TikTok if his parent company ByteDance fails to reach a deal to divest it in 45 days. He did not elaborate on the scope of the ban, only indicating that the US Department of Commerce would define which transactions would be prohibited at the end of the 45-day period.

The White House document, sent to supporters last week, provides insight into the Trump administration’s thinking. This shows that the US government plans to disrupt key aspects of TikTok’s operations and funding, amid concerns about the security of personal data processed by the app.

“Prohibited transactions may include, for example, agreements to make the TikTok app available on app stores… purchasing advertising on TikTok and agreeing to terms of service to download the TikTok app to a device. user, ”the document indicates.

A source close to the White House document has verified its authenticity. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some tech industry experts have said that eliminating TikTok’s ability to be offered on Apple’s and Google’s owner Alphabet’s app stores, which in turn allows it to be downloaded to smartphones iPhone and Android, could cripple the growth of the application.

“It’s killing TikTok in the United States,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. “If they want to grow up, these rules are a huge obstacle.”

He added, however, that the US government might not be able to prevent Americans from downloading TikTok from foreign websites.

Apple and Alphabet did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the wake of Trump’s executive order last week, TikTok told advertisers it would continue to honor planned ad campaigns, reimburse those it couldn’t complete, and work with key influencers to migrate to other platforms in case of prohibition. Some advertisers told Reuters they are making contingency plans and considering other applications for their marketing.

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