Innovation

Trump Admin To Ban TikTok & WeChat Downloads In U.S. Starting Sunday

The ban follows through on a series of executive orders from President Trump that the popular Chinese-owned apps find a U.S. buyer.

In this photo illustration the logo of Chinese media app for creating and sharing short videos TikTok, also known as Douyin is displayed on the screen of a smartphone in front of a TV screen displaying the TikTok logo on September 15, 2020 in Paris, France | Getty Images
In this photo illustration the logo of Chinese media app for creating and sharing short videos TikTok, also known as Douyin is displayed on the screen of a smartphone in front of a TV screen displaying the TikTok logo on September 15, 2020 in Paris, France | Getty Images

The Commerce Department will ban people from downloading popular apps TikTok and WeChat from U.S. app stores starting Sunday night. The expected ban follows President Trump’s executive orders this summer that the two popular Chinese-owned apps find a U.S. buyer.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced on Friday that new downloads of WeChat or TikTok will be prohibited from U.S. app stores starting September 20 “to safeguard the national security of the United States.” 

TikTok, a short-form video app, is wildly popular among teens and influencers, while WeChat is often used by Chinese nationals living in the U.S. According to a Reuters report TikTok has 100 million users in the U.S., while WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users.

People who have already downloaded TikTok will see little change, as the administration won’t place a more extensive ban on the app until November 12, unless TikTok owner Bytedance secures a deal with a U.S. company by that time. 

Ross told Fox Business on Friday that as of Sunday night, the most significant change for TikTok users will be that they “won't have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance." 

"The basic TikTok will stay intact until Nov. 12," Ross continued. "If there's not a deal by Nov. 12 under the provisions of the old order, then TikTok would also be, for all practical purposes, shut down.”

Earlier this week, tech giant Oracle Corp., beat Microsoft in a deal with ByteDance for TikTok's U.S. operations. Though Oracle’s bid isn’t a sale, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed on Monday that his office received a proposal from Oracle over the weekend and said that the U.S. government would review it this week. The deal has not yet been approved, though CNBC reported that Trump could be expected to address it on Friday.

In a Friday statement, TikTok said, “We disagree with the decision from the Commerce Department, and are disappointed that it stands to block new app downloads from Sunday and ban use of the TikTok app in the US from November 12.”

“In our proposal to the U.S. Administration, we’ve already committed to unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do, including third-party audits, verification of code security, and U.S. government oversight of U.S. data security,” the statement continued. 

In August, Microsoft announced that it was “committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.” The announcement came after President Trump threatened to ban the app unless an American company bought it by mid-September.

The president signed executive orders on August 6, setting the September 20 deadline for ByteDance and WeChat owner Tencent Holdings Ltd. to continue operations in the U.S. In both orders, Trump said the measures taken against the apps were to “protect our national security.” 

On August 14, the president then extended the deadline for ByteDance to reach a deal with another company on the sale of TikTok to November 12.

TikTok then filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in late August, saying that it disagreed with the administration's claim that it is a national security threat. 

“We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees,” TikTok stated.