US confirms WeChat and TikTok ban

The US Department of Commerce (DoC) has confirmed that transactions on WeChat and TikTok will be banned from this weekend.

The move, in response to president Donald Trump’s executive orders signed on 6 August, comes in order to safeguard national security, according to a statement.

"The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the US," stated the DoC. "Today’s announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the US by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality."

It conceded that while the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, the DoC argued that each collects vast swathes of data from users, including network activity, location data, 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."

So as of 20 September, the following transactions are prohibited: any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications or updates through a mobile app store in the US; and any provision of services through the WeChat mobile app for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the US.

As of 20 September for WeChat and 12 November for TikTok, the following transactions are prohibited:

• Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimisation of the mobile application in the US;
• Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimisation of the mobile application in the US;
• Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimisation of the mobile application within the US; and
• Any utilisation of the mobile application’s constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed or accessible within the US.

Should the government determine that WeChat’s or TikTok’s "illicit behaviour" 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.

“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 CCP,” said DoC 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 US laws and regulations.”

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