In an interview with Fox Business News this morning, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced new regulations surrounding the download of the popular apps TikTok and WeChat, as they have posed national security concerns.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The Trump administration will be banning the Chinese-owned payment and messaging app WeChat in the U.S. as of Sunday, and blocking all new downloads of the user-generated video app TikTok, effective the same day.
An official ban of TikTok has been postponed until November 12th, as the details of the takeover of its U.S. operations are still being worked out.
Commerce Secretary Ross explained that WeChat will be shut down as of midnight on Monday “for all practical purposes.”
“TikTok is more complicated,” said Ross, who shared that the deadline for a deal with a U.S. buyer has been set for November. Updates in the app will be disabled in the meantime.
“Basic TikTok will stay intact until November 12,” added Ross. “If there is not a deal by November 12 under the provisions of the old order, then TikTok also will be, for all practical purposes, shut down.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also contributed his thoughts on the major move for national security on Friday:
“The details of the various proposals that have been presented I can’t speak to other than to say, our goals are really very simple, protecting American information and data from ending up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” he shared with reporters. “While we are reviewing the proposal, trying to evaluate if we can successfully achieve those outcomes, that will be our priority.”
“If that’s the case, we will allow private sector entities to execute a commercial transaction, protecting the American people,” added Pompeo.
The TikTok ban will be a huge blow to Gen Z-ers, who are especially active on the video-sharing app, which has an estimated 65 to 80 million U.S. users. WeChat, while less robust in its userbase, is still a very popular app for the Chinese American community, boasting near 20 million U.S. users. Most of them use the app to talk to loved ones or conduct business in China.
In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for TikTok expressed the company’s great disappointment in the Trump Administration’s decision to ban their U.S. operations:
“In our proposal to the U.S. Administration, we’ve already committed to unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do, including third-party audits, verification of code security, and U.S. government oversight of U.S. data security. Further, an American technology provider would be responsible for maintaining and operating the TikTok network in the U.S., which would include all services and data serving U.S. consumers.”
TikTok claims that they will continue to fight the “unjust executive order,” which in their opinion was “enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the U.S. of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”
“We agree that type of ban would be bad for the industry,” wrote Vanessa Pappas, interim head of TikTok, in a Twitter statement. “We invite Facebook and Instagram to publicly join our challenge and support our litigation. This is a moment to put aside our competition and focus on core principles like freedom of expression and due process of law.”
WeChat’s parent company Tencent has not immediately responded to ABC’s request for comment on the matter.