US TikTok and WeChat restrictions to start today 

The US Department of Commerce has introduced legislation restricting TikTok and WeChat as of  today. This follows President Trump’s executive orders, which were signed in August. 

From 20th September 2020, legislation will stop people in the US downloading the video-sharing and messaging apps from any platform, and could mean a total ban from using them in the future. 

The Department of commerce says the move is essential to “safeguard the national security of the United States.” There are concerns that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can use TikTok to influence the US economy, foreign affairs and public safety.  

According to the government officials, these two apps collect a large amount of data from users, including network activity, browsing and search history, and location data. 

It says this information is subject to intelligence laws imposed by CCP, which poses “unacceptable risks” to US national security. 

From today, it will be prohibited to provide services that distribute or maintain the apps, or any codes or updates, in any online app store in the US. Plus, providing services intended to transfer funds or process payments through WeChat will be banned. 

As of 12th November 2020, this will be extended to ban providing internet hosting or content delivery services that enable functioning or optimization of either app. In addition, it will be illegal to provide code, software functions, or services, that make the app accessible in the US. 

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said, “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.” 

He added, “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.”

TikTok said it was “disappointed” in the decisions and it said it had already committed to “unprecedented levels of additional transparency” in light of the Trump administration’s concerns.

The company noted, “We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”

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