U.S. President Donald Trump has issued executive orders to ban Chinese mobile application TikTok as well as WeChat, citing a threat to national security and its economy.
China’s ByteDance Ltd. owns TikTok, a video-sharing mobile app, while Tencent Holdings Ltd. owns WeChat, a messaging, social media, and electronic payment app.
In the separate orders, Trump said the spread of mobile applications developed and owned by Chinese companies in the country, particularly TikTok, continues to threaten its national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.
Meanwhile, TikTok, in a blogpost, urged its millions of American users to respond, and also threatened legal action if necessary against the executive order.
As per the orders, TikTok and WeChat will get 45 days before the ban comes in to effect. The time gap would give enough time to Microsoft, which reportedly is eyeing a purchase of TikTok in the United States.
While signing the orders, Trump stated that both TikTok and WeChat automatically capture 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,” he said.
TikTok reportedly has been downloaded over 175 million times in the U.S. and over one billion times globally, and WeChat has over one billion users worldwide.
Further, there are allegations that both applications censor content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive, including protests in Hong Kong, China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, as well as about origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
Citing recent actions by India and Australia to ban or restrict these troublemaking apps, Trump urged the country must act against them to protect national security.
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