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TikTok executive order: Chinese firm threatens to take Trump administration to court

TikTok has threatened to take the Trump administration to court over an executive order that will prevent it from doing business with US firms.

In a strongly worded statement issued on Friday morning (7 August), the company accused the US government of not following due process or adhering to the law. It also vowed to “pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded”.

The executive order, which was issued last night and comes into effect in 45 days, will ban US firms from transacting with ByteDance or Tencent, which owns the WeChat messaging service.

It was not immediately clear what the legal repercussions of the order would be for the Chinese tech giants, but some experts have speculated that Google and Apple may be forced to remove their apps from their app stores.

The order came just hours after it emerged that Microsoft is attempting to expand the scope of a proposed TikTok buyout to cover the app’s global operations. The initial discussions focused only on its presence in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Donald Trump, who claims the Chinese government could seek to spy on TikTok users or use the app to spread propaganda, supports the deal. But the US president ruffled feathers earlier in the week by insisting that the US treasury would have to be remunerated by the US government’s facilitation of the deal, in a move that several commentators have described as mafia-like behaviour.

TikTok said in a statement: “This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth.

“And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. 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 Administration, then by the US courts.”

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