TikTok could be banned in the US "within weeks" as Donald Trump's administration looks to blacklist the Chinese-owned viral video app over security concerns.
White House officials are considering placing ByteDance, the Beijing-headquartered owner of TikTok, on the US Commerce Department's entity list in a move that would effectively bar the use of the app, according to the Financial Times.
The Trump administration has previously made a similar move against Huawei, the Chinese telecoms firm that has faced allegations of posing a threat to national security. Huawei has repeatedly denied the claims.
Mark Meadows, the US President's chief of staff, said that officials were looking at TikTok and other apps that "have the potential for national security exposure" over fears information was being gathered "on American citizens by a foreign adversary".
"I don't think there's any self-imposed deadline for action, but I think we are looking at weeks, not months," he said.
TikTok, which commands almost 50 million users in the US and 800 million users globally, has increasingly come to the attention of US politicians in recent months as increasing numbers of users have taken to the app to express their views on the upcoming election.
The company has attempted to allay concerns that it is sending sensitive information to Beijing by pulling its operations out of Hong Kong in recent weeks over a controversial national security bill that critics have warned could impinge on data privacy.
On Thursday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said a move by TikTok to leave, would be a better option than a ban on the app, which was threatened by State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo earlier this month.
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"We haven't made final decisions but ... I think TikTok is going to pull out of the holding company which is China-run and operate as an independent American company," Kudlow said.
When asked about Kudlow's remarks, a TikTok spokesman said the company would not "engage with speculation in the market," and referred to a statement last week noting that ByteDance was "evaluating changes to the corporate structure of its TikTok business" and was fully committed to protecting users privacy and security.
The potential US ban on TikTok comes as the app has faced a similar crackdown in India, where it was banned last month along with more than 50 other Chinese apps following a border dispute with China.
Indian officials claimed the move was in direct response to complaints about "malicious apps" that "steal and surreptitiously transmit" data out of the country. TikTok has denied all claims that it sends the personal data of users to the Chinese government.