The Department of Commerce announced Friday (Sept. 18) that it will prohibit new downloads in the U.S. relating to Chinese-owned video sharing app TikTok and WeChat, beginning Sept. 20, in order to “safeguard the national security of the United States.”
Beginning Sunday, Sept. 20, 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 Sept. 20, 2020, for WeChat and as of Nov. 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.
The move implements the executive orders the Trump administration announced last month.
“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 U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “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.
“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,” a statement from the Department of Commerce continued.
According to the same statement, President Trump has provided until Nov. 12 for the national security concerns to be resolved.
TikTok’s parent company, the Chinese-owned ByteDance, is currently negotiating an agreement with the Treasury Department to sell ownership of the app’s U.S. operations, with Oracle reportedly earning the winning bid.
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