The US Commerce Department has announced that it is planning to ban people in the US from downloading Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok and messaging app WeChat starting September 20. The former was given a deadline to sell its US operations to a US company. There were reports that Oracle is all set to acquire TikTok’s US operations.
However, reports later said that ByteDance will not sell TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft or Oracle. To recall, Chinese government recently changed its rules on tech exports, which bans the commercialization of specific technology categories to foreign countries. Hence, ByteDance cannot sell its US operations without the permission of the Chinese government.
In a press release on the matter, the US Department of Commerce noted: “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. Today’s announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality.”
As of September 20, 2020, for WeChat and as of November 12, 2020, for TikTok, the following transactions are prohibited:
- Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the US;
- Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the US;
- Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the US;
- Any utilization of the mobile application’s constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the US.
Commerce Department officials said they were taking the extraordinary step because of the risks the apps’ data collection poses. China and the companies have denied US user data is collected for spying.