The Department of Commerce in the US has announced that TikTok and WeChat will no longer be available for download in any US app store starting September 20, 2020. Users who already have the applications will not receive software updates or security patches.
However, WeChat will completely be banned on Sunday and on November 12, 2020, for TikTok.
According to the department, the action was deemed necessary due to the need to safeguard the national security of the United States. President Donald Trump stated that he is concerned that the apps can be used to pass data to the US government.
“At the president’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ data,” says the US Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Despite numerous actions by TikTok to arguably convince the US government of additional security measures in the app, the US government still declined to state that they could pass on the data captured to China in the future.
“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 added. “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 U.S. consumers.”
TikTok has chosen to partner with Oracle, a US-based company, as its technology partner in a bid to lift the ban. This means Oracle will manage the US data and safeguard the personal data of Americans.
A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement that they disagree and are disappointed with the Commerce Department’s decision to block new app downloads from Sunday and ban the use of the TikTok app in the U.S. from November 12. If TikTok resolves the security threats posed by the app then the ban may be lifted
WeChat is also a Chinese messaging app owned by Tencent. It has an approximately 1 billion user base. The platform has evolved from a simple messaging app to a multifaceted tool. The app enables its users to pay bills and money transfers.
“WeChat was designed to serve international users outside of mainland China and has always incorporated the highest standards of user privacy and data security,” Tencent said in a statement.
WeChat users can continue using the app but the US government will ban the provision of money transfer services. However, no new downloads will be available on the app stores in the United States. The main aim at the moment is to reduce the use of the two Chinese applications.
Moving forward the United States government will ban any provision of internet hosting that allows the two applications to function in the U.S. It will restrict any computer code or function that relates to both applications in a mission to prevent the reintroduction of Chinese applications in the country.