President Trump issued two executive orders late Thursday against China-based TikTok and messaging app WeChat, citing national security concerns in a sweeping order that could prevent the companies from doing most business in the United States.
Whereas India was the first country to ban TikTok and WeChat citing national security concerns. India has banned as many as 106 Chinese apps, a move welcomed by both the Trump administration and the US lawmakers.
Tiktok, the hugely popular video-sharing app, has come under fire from US lawmakers and the administration over national security concerning data collection, amid intensified tension between Washington and Beijing.
It would take 45 days to ban comes into effect days and prohibit any U.S. company or person from transacting with ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, or WeChat. While the natures of the banned transactions are not specific, it may mean the companies would not be able to appear on Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store in the United States. It also could make it illegal for U.S. companies to purchase advertising on TikTok.
Trump and other officials have expressed concern that data collected by TikTok could be shared with the Chinese government. TikTok has continually denied that and says it stores U.S. customer information in the United States. But Trump has continued targeting the company over the past week by threatening to ban it and finally seemingly agreeing to let Microsoft buy it, if a deal closes quickly.
Trump said “This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information – potentially allowing China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,”
“WeChat, like TikTok, also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive and may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party,” Trump said.
TikTok has previously stressed that its US user data is already stored on US-based servers and backed up in Singapore, and is therefore not subject to Chinese law as some US officials have feared.
In recent weeks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused TikTok of collecting personal information of Americans.