Washington: People in the US will not be able to download TikTok and WeChat apps, officials said on Friday.
President Donald Trump-led administration will ban its download from US app stores, citing the need to protect national security.
According to some media reports, the ban will be effective from Sunday.
In a statement, US Department of Commerce said: "In response to President Trump’s Executive Orders signed August 6, 2020, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today announced prohibitions on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the United States."
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.
The announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality, the department said.
“Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “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.”
While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar.
Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories, the department said in a statement.
Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP.
On August 6, 2020, President Trump signed Executive Orders (E.O.) 13942, Addressing the Threat Posed by TikTok, and E.O. 13943, Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat.
In the E.O.s, the President determined that the apps capture vast swaths of information from U.S. users, leaving the data vulnerable to CCP access for nefarious purposes.
Commerce, at the Direction of the President, was required to identify transactions within 45 days to protect national security and the private data of millions of people across the country.
Today’s announced prohibitions fulfill the President’s direction and mitigate national security risks.