US to ban TikTok, WeChat from Sep 20: Department of Commerce

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The United States of America will ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing app, TikTok and messaging app, WeChat from Sunday onwards as the Department of Commerce reportedly prepares to issue an order that prohibits users from installing these apps. 

According to the officials, the ban on TikTok can be still revoked by President Donald Trump before it takes effect late Sunday as the company is in the race to find a perfect partner for continuing its US operations.

To address US concerns about the protection of user data, ByteDance has negotiated with Oracle Corporation and others to establish a new business, TikTok Global. ByteDance would still need President Trump’s permission to lift the US ban over its application.

Commercial officials have confirmed that they will not ban TikTok’s additional technical transactions until 12 November, allowing the company extra time to see if ByteDance can reach an agreement for changing the US operations. “The basic TikTok will stay intact until Nov. 12,” said Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary, US.

The department said that by removing access to these applications and reducing their functionality, it will protect user information in the US.

The order does not bar US companies from doing business in WeChat outside the US. To promote purchases and engage with consumers in China, US companies like Walmart and Starbucks can use WeChat’s embedded ‘mini-app’ programs as they will not be banned from it.

The order does not prohibit transactions with other firms, like the online gaming operations of WeChat-owned Tencent Holdings, nor does it prevent Apple, Google or others from providing TikTok or WeChat applications anywhere in the United States.

The ban comes in reaction to the orders given on August 6 by Mr. Trump which gave 45 days to the Commerce Department to decide what transactions should be blocked from apps that seem to be a threat to national security. The deadline for making the decision ends this Sunday.

Department of Commerce officials said they took exceptional measures due to the risks raised by the application database. China and the companies have denied the claims, that they are using the US user’s data for spying purposes.

Commerce Secretary, Ross said that, while promoting the national values, standards-based on democratic law, and enforcement of US laws and regulations they have taken significant action to combat the malicious collection of personal data of Americans.

According to the reports, the Commerce Department order bars Apple Incorporation’s app store, Alphabet Incorporations Google Play and others from offering the apps on any platform “that can be reached from within the United States”.

Apple and Google did not respond immediately to requests for a comment on the decisions.