President Trump’s ban on Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat will come into effect this weekend.
The US Department of Commerce (DoC) announced that the apps will be banned starting on Sunday 20th September.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement:
“Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the US.”
The affected apps will no longer be available on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store and companies are also banned from hosting them in the US.
“Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories,” wrote the DoC in a release. “Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP.”
TikTok can continue to function for the time being, but it cannot be newly-downloaded or receive any updates. However, as of November 12th, the following will also be banned:
- Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
- Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
- Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the U.S.;
- Any utilization of the mobile application’s constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the U.S.
A partnership between TikTok-owner ByteDance and Oracle was close to being signed in recent weeks that would have ensured the app’s over 100 million American users could still officially access the app.
Hina Shamsi, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, said:
“This order violates the First Amendment rights of people in the United States by restricting their ability to communicate and conduct important transactions on the two social media platforms.
The order also harms the privacy and security of millions of existing TikTok and WeChat users in the United States by blocking software updates, which can fix vulnerabilities and make the apps more secure.
In implementing President Trump’s abuse of emergency powers, Secretary Ross is undermining our rights and our security.
To truly address privacy concerns raised by social media platforms, Congress should enact comprehensive surveillance reform and strong consumer data privacy legislation.”
Bloomberg reports Trump was not a fan of the potential TikTok-Oracle deal, and said that he was “not prepared to sign off on anything” after a reporter told him ByteDance would retain a majority stake.
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