[Update 2: More relief] USA bans WeChat and TikTok from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store
Starting from September 20, 2020
The US Commerce Department has announced prohibitions banning people in the US from downloading TikTok and WeChat in reponse to a pair of executive orders signed by US President Donald Trump in August.
In a press release on the matter, the US Department of Commerce noted: “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 U.S. Today’s announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality.”
Speaking on the matter, US Department of Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, was quoted saying, “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 threads 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.”
The new prohibitions on TikTok and WeChat will go into effect on September 20th, 2020. As part of the new directive, 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.
Further, 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.
It’s also worth noting that President Trump has provided until November 12 for the national security concerns posed by TikTok to be resolved. In case they are, the prohibitions mentioned above may be lifted. It remains to be seen if there are further developments on this by the time the ban is put into effect.
Update: Temporary relief to TikTok and WeChat
As expected, TikTok and WeChat have been granted temporary relief, postponing the ban that was to be put into effect on September 20, 2020. The Commerce Department has delayed the directions against TikTok by a week, with the new deadline being September 27, 2020. Meanwhile, the ban against WeChat has been blocked by a Court in California, with the relief expected to last until the next date of court proceedings.
Update: US Commerce Department will not enforce TikTok ban
According to a report emerging out of Wall Street Journal, the US Commerce Department has chosen not to enforce its order that would have forced TikTok to shut down its functions in the USA. As mentioned in the coverage above, a new set of restrictions were scheduled to come into place on November 12, 2020. But now, the US Commerce Department is citing lawsuits in progress and resulting preliminary injunctions in order to delay the enforcement of the shutdown order, and give some more relief to TikTok.