The Trump Administration is putting its plans against Chinese apps into action.
With the American acquisition of Chinese-born social media apps TikTok and WeChat falling through, the White House plans to begin restricting the apps’ activity in the United States. Starting this Sunday, September 20, American app stores, including the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, will no longer be permitted to host downloads for TikTok and WeChat. Users who currently have one or both of the apps installed will still be able to use them, but they will not be able to download patches or updates. Furthermore, barring any new deals between Bytedance, TikTok’s owner, Tencent, WeChat’s owner, and the US government, the usage of TikTok and WeChat will be banned outright in the United States in mid-November.
“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,” said US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
While Tencent has not made any public statements on WeChat’s ban, TikTok has stated that it has every intention of fighting the ban. TikTok’s interim CEO, Vanessa Pappas, appealed to other social media platforms on Twitter, saying that a ban on TikTok could cause problems for the social media industry as a whole.
“We agree that this type of ban would be bad for the industry,” Pappas’s tweet read. “We invite Facebook and Instagram to publicly join our challenge and support our litigation. This is a moment to put aside our competition and focus on core principles like freedom of expression and due process of law.”
In a public response to the Trump Administration’s ban, TikTok stressed the lengths to which they’ve gone to try and appease the US government. “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. Further, an American technology provider would be responsible for maintaining and operating the TikTok network in the U.S., which would include all services and data serving US consumers. We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”