Trump Administration Set to Ban TikTok and WeChat

Getty Images
September 18, 2020

The Trump administration is set to ban downloads of China-based social media apps TikTok and WeChat, the Department of Commerce announced Friday.

"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," Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

While the download ban on both apps will take effect on Sunday, a full TikTok ban is set to take place on Nov. 12, the deadline for China-based parent company ByteDance to transfer the app's U.S. operations to an American company. California-based tech giant Oracle is reportedly in the final steps of securing a deal.

The order will also block transactions on WeChat and bar American companies from providing internet services to the Chinese messaging app, which will leave it "shut down in the U.S.," according to Ross. While TikTok will still function for users after Sunday, they will be blocked from downloading the app or installing updates.

TikTok called the Commerce Department directive "unjust" in a Friday statement. "We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the U.S. of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods," the statement reads.

In recent months, the Trump administration has made countering Chinese malign influence in American networks a top priorityWhile there is debate about the extent of Beijing's data extraction from social media apps like TikTok and WeChat, a recently published Chinese Communist Party document revealed a renewed interest in deepening the regime's relationship with Chinese technology companies.

"We will raise and strengthen private enterprise figures and teams who staunchly and steadfastly walk together with the party, and develop as one heart and one mind," the document reads.

Top officials have taken notice in Washington. "TikTok basically allows the Chinese Communist Party to spy on our children," Keith Krach, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy, and environment, told the Washington Free Beacon.

"The battlefront [with China] is technology," Krach added. "It's a way for the Chinese Communist Party to collect a lot of privacy data."

Published under: China , TikTok