U.S. to ban transactions with TikTok, WeChat

In what is the latest of a series of American measures against China, U.S. President Donald Trump signed executive orders (EOs) barring transactions with Chinese video sharing app TiKTok and messaging service WeChat.

The bans, which will come into effect after 45 days, were ostensibly in response to concerns that the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) could retrieve private data on Americans from these apps and CPC censorship on the apps.

One of the EOs bans any WeChat-related transaction with its owner Tencent Ltd. or its subsidiaries. The other bans any transactions with ByteDance, the owner of TikTok. Both orders allow a period of 45 days before kicking in. This allows time for U.S. tech giant Microsoft to explore an opportunity to buy TikTok from ByteDance.

Microsoft had announced on August 2 that it was in talks with ByteDance to buy TikTok in “the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.” TikTok is used by some 100 million Americans. Mr. Trump had, as per a Reuters report of August 3, given Microsoft 45 days to finalise the deal. The company was also looking to buy the app in India and Europe, the Financial Times had reported.

Security concerns

The introductions to Thursday’s order cite security, censorship, and misinformation concerns. The U.S. government has been wary of the Chinese government collecting data from Americans through the links it has with Chinese owned companies.

“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information. In addition, the application captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States, thereby allowing the Chinese Communist Party a mechanism for keeping tabs on Chinese citizens who may be enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives,” the EO on WeChat said.

The introductions to Thursday’s EOs make references to former bans of the Chinese apps, including by India. “The Government of India recently banned the use of TikTok and other Chinese mobile applications throughout the country; in a statement, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asserted that they were ‘stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India,’ ” one order says.

The Trump administration has taken a series of actions in recent months against China and its officials for Beijing’s National Security Law in Hong Kong; human rights abuses against China’s Uighur minority; alleged security concerns against telecom company Huawei; and so forth. A proposal to de-list Chinese companies from American stock exchanges if they did not comply with American accounting standards was announced by U.S. Treasury officials on Thursday.

Earlier this year, ByteDance had said it stores all U.S. user data in the U.S. itself with a backup on servers in Singapore.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 3:23:10 AM |

Next Story