Social media app TikTok has come under scrutiny over the last few months. US officials believe that the Chinese-owned app poses a security risk to the data of 100-million Americans who use the app. President Trump threw fuel onto the already controversial fire and threatened to ban the app entirely unless an American company owned the rights to the app’s domestic operations.
Following this, Microsoft appeared to be the strongest contender to purchase the app. ByteDance, who owns TikTok, decided against the tech giant’s proposal. Rather, Oracle Corp was chosen to be the video app’s American partner.
Now, it seems TikTok will be banned in the US from Sunday, September 20, according to Reuters. The US Commerce Department allegedly has plans to release an order on Friday [September 18] that will prevent civilians from downloading TikTok as well as the messaging app WeChat, which is also Chinese-owned.
ByteDance and Oracle Corp have been in talks around forming TikTok Global, which would be an entirely separate company. The aim of this will address the privacy concerns over the data of US users.
The Commerce Department order will essentially “deplatform” the two apps in the US, by removing them from the Apple App store and Google Play and other platforms offering the apps.
In a statement, the Commerce Department 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. Today’s announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality.”
The statement continued: “Any other prohibitive transaction relating to WeChat or TikTok may be identified at a future date. Should the U.S. Government determine that WeChat’s or TikTok’s illicit behavior is being replicated by another app somehow outside the scope of these executive orders, the President has the authority to consider whether additional orders may be appropriate to address such activities. The President has provided until November 12 for the national security concerns posed by TikTok to be resolved. If they are, the prohibitions in this order may be lifted.”
According to the statement, as of September 20, 2020, the following transactions are prohibited:
- Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S.;
- Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.
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 U.S.;
- Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
- Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the U.S.;
- 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 U.S.