Trump Signs Order Banning U.S. Transactions With TikTok, WeChat in 45 Days
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President Trump is going to cripple TikTok and messaging app WeChat by prohibiting U.S. companies from doing business with their Chinese parent companies.
On Thursday night, Trump signed two executive orders that’ll enable the U.S. Commerce Secretary to punish American companies and individuals found in violation with $1 million fines and possible imprisonment.
The orders will go into effect 45 days from now. So Microsoft can still acquire TikTok from Chinese parent ByteDance without facing penalties, so long as the deal takes place before Sept. 20.
Nevertheless, the orders could derail TikTok’s reach in the U.S. unless parent company ByteDance sells it off. Otherwise, U.S. app stores, credit card companies and software providers will soon all be prohibited from entering commercial transactions with the popular video-sharing app.
Trump signed the orders, claiming TikTok and WeChat pose a national security threat to the U.S. Both apps can harvest data from millions of Americans and also censor information, which is no different from other social media apps. However, Trump takes issue with how TikTok and WeChat come from two Chinese companies, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government.
TikTok has been adamant it functions as an independent business. However, U.S. officials are concerned both apps have no choice but to secretly do the bidding of the Chinese government.
“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage,” Trump wrote in regards to TikTok.
The executive order arrives a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo introduced a new government effort that will work to pull “untrusted” Chinese apps from U.S. app stores. The same effort will also seek to stop Chinese cloud providers from storing sensitive U.S. information.
Critics are now concerned the U.S. is paving the way for a fractured Internet. “If this approach were to spread further, the ability of the Internet to bring the broader benefits of collaboration, global reach and economic growth will be significantly threatened,” said the Internet Society, a nonprofit group.
ByteDance and Tencent, which owns WeChat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.