As announced on Friday by the Department of Commerce, as of Sept. 20 it will no longer be possible to use WeChat or download the TikTok application. The move was prompted by President Trump’s executive orders issued in August, which reported that the popular applications jeopardize national security and the privacy of Americans’ data.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Friday morning, Sept. 18, in a press release that he will ban the WeChat messaging application completely from Sunday Sept. 20 and block new downloads and updates to the video sharing application, TikTok, also from Sunday.
A broader ban on TikTok was postponed until Nov. 12, while the acquisition of its U.S. operations is still in process.
The key argument for the Trump administration’s decisions was that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated that it uses these applications to threaten national security, foreign policy, and the U.S. economy.
According to the Department of Commerce’s statements, the announced bans are aimed at eliminating access to these applications by significantly reducing their functionality for the sole purpose of protecting the country’s users and citizens.
“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,” said Ross.
According to the provision published by the Department of Commerce, it is strictly forbidden from Sept. 20, 2020:
- Any provision of service to distribute or maintain WeChat or TikTok mobile applications or updates through a mobile online application store in the United States
- Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the United States
President Donald Trump issued two executive orders in August prohibiting commercial transactions with TikTok and WeChat. With the recent announcement by the Department of Commerce, the possibility of ByteDance being able to negotiate with a U.S. buyer for the sale of TikTok in order to continue operating in the United States has been extended until Nov. 12.
According to The Associated Press, TikTok has chosen Oracle as its U.S. technology partner. On Monday, Oracle confirmed that its offer was submitted with ByteDance to the Treasury Department, implying that the Chinese firm would have already accepted its purchase offer.
Like most social networks, TikTok, owned by ByteDance of China, can collect data from users and moderate publications according to their interests and wills. It captures locations, messages from users, and tracks what they see to discover the best way to target ads.
While other popular applications such as Facebook and Twitter also have the same way of operating, the case of TikTok has a significant aggravation, as it is a Chinese-owned company, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) requires the cooperation of companies operating abroad such as BytDance, which could be pressured or forced to transmit the valuable information to the CCP.