TikTok and WeChat banned from US app stores from Sunday

If a deal is not struck by 12 November, TikTok will be fully banned,

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Friday morning that downloads of video app TikTok and messaging app WeChat will be banned in the U.S. from Sunday (Sept 20). If a deal is not struck by 12 November, the app will be fully banned, and using as well as downloading the app will be illegal.

Users in the U.S. who already have the app installed will still be able to use it as normal after 20 September. But they will not be able to download new updates.

After 12 November, it will be illegal in the U.S. not only to distribute TikTok through app stores but also to provide the underlying internet infrastructure that powers it, or to allow its code to be accessible. That would effectively amount to a complete ban, with users unable to access the app at all.

WeChat will be entirely banned from 20 September, the order said, which means WeChat will effectively shut down in the U.S.

The decision comes after threats from the US government that the app would be banned if it could not be sold to a US company.

Oracle has been reported to have won the bid for TikTok, but the deal is yet to go through. Donald Trump said yesterday that his administration had spoken to Walmart and Oracle about a possible deal, but that there had been no substantial change in the situation.

“We’re making a decision. We spoke today to Walmart, Oracle. I guess Microsoft is still involved,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for a visit to Wisconsin.

“We’ll make a decision, but nothing much has changed. We’ll make a decision soon.”

U.S. Department of 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,”

“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.”

In August, signed an executive order that set a deadline of 20 September for the sale of TikTok. The order said that if the deadline was reached and the app was still under Chinese ownership, the US would ban “any transaction by any person” with Bytedance, TikTok’s owners.

The executive order alleged that apps “developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” before going on say specifically that “at this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok”.

It accused the app capturing “vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories” as well as censoring content on behalf of the Chinese government and helping with the country’s disinformation campaigns.

TikTok and its parent company Bytedance – which offers a separate version of the app in China – have repeatedly denied those accusations.

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