The Commerce Department will roll out a ban of transactions in the U.S. using TikTok and WeChat starting Sunday.
The order Friday was put into place, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, to “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.”
The government previously said that using and downloading the app to communicate won’t be a banned transaction, although messaging on the app “could be directly or indirectly impaired” by the ban, and people who use it for messaging won’t be subject to penalties.
Some security experts have raised concerns that ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese company that owns TikTok, would maintain access to information on the 100 million TikTok users in the United States, creating a security risk.
“While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar,” the Commerce Department said. “Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories. Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP. This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security.”
The Commerce Department added the following specific steps to be taken:
- 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.