The Commerce Department announced Friday morning it is restricting access to video-sharing app TikTok and messaging app WeChat, beginning Sunday, Sept. 20. New downloads of the app will be blocked for the Chinese-owned apps in a move the Commerce Department says will “protect users.”
“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.,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. "Today’s announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality."
Ross said the threats posed by the two apps are not identical, but they are similar in that they both collect large amounts of user data, including information about network activity, location, 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,” he continued. “This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security.”
As of September 20, 2020, the following transactions are prohibited:
1. 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.;
2. Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.
As of September 20, 2020, for WeChat and as of November 12, 2020, for TikTok, the following transactions are prohibited:
1. Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
2. Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
3. Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the U.S.;
4. 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. (Commerce Department)
Ross said TikTok has until November 12 to resolve any national security concerns. The move comes amid negotiations between ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, and Oracle, the U.S. software company. The order may be lifted if the administration's concerns are addressed.