TikTok ban may forbid US companies from running ads on app

The Trump Administration’s looming ban of TikTok may even make it illegal for US companies to run ads on the wildly popular short-form video app.

In a document sent out to supporters last week obtained by Reuters, the government detailed the key aspects of TikTok’s operations and funding that it would target amid concerns over the safety of personal data that it collects.

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

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

By banning TikTok from Apple and Google parent company Alphabet’s app stores, the government would effectively block TikTok from being downloaded onto any iPhone or Android device and kneecap its growth.

The new details make TikTok’s race against time even more dire — the app’s Beijing-based parent company ByteDance has until Sept. 15 to find “a very American company” to acquire it or it will be put “out of business” in the US, Trump said last Monday.

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

Following Trump’s executive order last week, TikTok told advertisers it would continue to honor planned ad campaigns, refund any that it cannot fulfill, and work with major influencers to migrate to other platforms in the event of a ban. Some advertisers told Reuters they were drafting contingency plans and considering other apps for their marketing.

Trump has said he would prefer that Microsoft or another suitor buy the full company rather than just TikTok’s US business.

“It’s probably easier to buy the whole thing than to buy 30 percent of it. Because they say how do you do 30 percent, who’s going to get the name? The name is odd. The brand is hot. And who’s going to get the name?” Trump said.

TikTok has been the subject of escalating scrutiny from US public officials over concerns the Chinese government could force ByteDance to give up valuable user information.

Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have suggested the app pipes data to the Chinese Communist Party. Tiktok denies it.

In 2017, China enacted the “National Intelligence Law,” which states that “Any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work.”

“A US company should buy TikTok so everyone can keep using it and your data is safe,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter last week. “This is about privacy. With TikTok in China, it’s subject to Chinese Communist Party laws that may require handing over data to their government.”

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