OnFocus – The United States will begin banning downloads of the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat on Sunday, September 20, citing national security and data privacy concerns.
WeChat’s total usage will also be banned starting Sunday, with a total ban on TikTok’s use being implemented on November 12.
On August 6, 2020, President Trump signed Executive Orders (E.O.) 13942, Addressing the Threat Posed by TikTok, and E.O. 13943, Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat. In the E.O.s, the President determined that the apps capture vast swaths of information from U.S. users, leaving the data vulnerable to CCP access for nefarious purposes. Commerce, at the Direction of the President, was required to identify transactions within 45 days to protect national security and the private data of millions of people across the country. Today’s announced prohibitions fulfill the President’s direction and mitigate national security risks.
“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
“While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar. Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories. Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP. This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security,” the statement added.
As of September 20, 2020, the following transactions are prohibited:
- Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S.;
- Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.
As of September 20, 2020, for WeChat and as of November 12, 2020, for TikTok, the following transactions are prohibited:
- 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.
Any other prohibitive transaction relating to WeChat or TikTok may be identified at a future date. Should the U.S. Government determine that WeChat’s or TikTok’s illicit behavior is being replicated by another app somehow outside the scope of these executive orders, the President has the authority to consider whether additional orders may be appropriate to address such activities. The President has provided until November 12 for the national security concerns posed by TikTok to be resolved. If they are, the prohibitions in this order may be lifted.
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