The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Friday it will follow through on President Trump’s executive order effectively banning the social media applications TikTok and WeChat from American use due to national security concerns. According to a statement released by the department, restrictions will be placed on the “transactions” of the apps beginning Sunday to protect American users from the Chinese Communist Party’s use of them for nefarious purposes.
“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 said.
The restrictions make it illegal for any app stores to continue to allow downloads or updates of either app, claiming both pose “unacceptable risks to our national security.” Anyone who already has the app downloaded will be permitted to use it for now.
“The only real change as of Sunday night will be [TikTok users] won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business
In addition, American WeChat users will no longer be able to make monetary transactions over the app.
“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,” the statement reads.
Extra prohibitions to both apps will be implemented for WeChat on Sunday and enforced on TikTok beginning Nov. 12. These restrictions make it illegal for internet services and “content delivery network services” to host or enable either app and also ban the use of the “constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the U.S.”
“If there’s not a deal by Nov. 12 under the provisions of the old order, then TikTok would also be, for all practical purposes, shut down,” Ross confirmed.
The department maintains the right to further restrict the apps if necessary.
“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 release stated. “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.”
Trump signed an executive order in early August ordering the Department of Commerce to “identify transactions within 45 days to protect national security and the private data of millions of people across the country.”
“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.”
Trump previously expressed interest in the sale of TikTok to an American company such as Microsoft, but no deal was struck before the mid-September deadline.
“I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business,” Trump told White House reporters. “But if somebody, and whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that’ll be interesting.”
Oracle Corporation, a computer software company, will become Byte Dance’s U.S. “business partner,” but will not own TikTok.