Last Updated on September 18, 2020
Today the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a ban on monetary transactions on TikTok and WeChat, citing potential threatening behavior that could pose a national security risk from the Chinese Communist Party, which has significant control over both Chinese companies. As a result, starting Sunday, users will no longer be able to download the TikTok or WeChat apps.
According to a press release from Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross, all “transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok” to “safeguard” the United States after 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,” Ross adds.
While TikTok is well known in the United States as a popular video sharing app used by young people, WeChat is lesser well know, The app works as a hybrid between a messenger, social media platform, and payment processing system, with most stores, airlines, and passenger trains in China now accepting payments using WeChat.
WeChat also allows the Chinese government to heavily monitor and censor its users, the majority of the Chinese public. If words, statements, images, memes, or videos have been flagged by the Chinese Communist Party, they cannot be sent via WeChat, even as private messages.
It was also recently revealed that the Chinese Communist Party uses the data obtained by foreign WeChat users in order to better hone its domestic censorship and spying policies.
The announcement comes following President Donald Trump’s executive order in August, when it was revealed the administration may ban TikTok entirely. Ross said the decision proves President Trump “will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party.”
On the original order, National File reported:
The executive order for TikTok strongly condemned the app as a tool of Chinese Communist Party surveillance, and cited this as the primary justification for the impending ban.
It begins with a description of TikTok and why it presents such a threat to U.S. security:
TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., has reportedly been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States and over one billion times globally. TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories. 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.
It is expected that Oracle, an American technology company, will buy TikTok’s U.S. assets so the social media platform can continue to operate within the United States.