President Trump signed two executive orders against two Chinese based social media apps Tik Tok and WeChat late on Thursday giving the same reasons India did as regards U.S national security. The ban was orchestrated in a way to prevent the companies that owned the social media apps, ByteDance and Tencent from doing most business in the U.S.
The issued order will take effect on September 20 and would stop any U.S organization or personnel from having any business deal with ByteDance or Tencent. However if Microsoft completes their deal or another U.S firm manages to buy Tik Tok before the 45 days limit, the ban won’t take effect.
This would imply that the apps won’t appear on the Apple, Google Play Store or any other legal U.S app store. It also would prohibit U.S companies from advertising on Tik Tok or WeChat or any other apps relating to their companies.
Why a Ban?
Trump had been threatening to ban Tik Tok for a while now after stating that the app poses a threat to the country’s national security. In addition, he talked about the effect the Coronavirus which originated from China has had on the U.S and the world.
Some U.S Government Officials have also stated the same and mentioned other Chinese apps like WeChat stating that the Chinese Government might have access to data collected by the social media apps. Tik Tok in defence to these allegations stated that their U.S servers are based in the U.S and they have and will not give the Chinese government access to their servers even if asked to.
These apps have had it coming for a while now and the actions were only delayed because Microsoft aims at buying Tik Tok seemed like it would work through. U.S threats to ban Tik Tok and other Chinese apps became clear after India did so, banning about 60 Chinese apps.
Tik Tok reportedly said on Friday that it was bewildered by the President’s move further stating that it would pursue “all remedies available to us”.
“This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth. And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets” Tik Tok.
What Does this Ban mean?
The ban was not stated at Tik Tok and WeChat directly but at ByteDance and Tencent. It would cripple the Chinese companies although WeChat has most of its users in China. Tencent spokesperson said the company is reviewing the executive order or supposed ban to get full knowledge about it.
Trump’s executive order read “the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China…continues to threaten National security, foreign policy, and the economy of the United States. At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application, in particular, Tik Tok”. Further stating to ban any person or property subject to the U.S business with ByteDance or any of its subsidiaries in 45 days “to the extent that they are permitted under applicable law”.
Claiming that Tik Tok’s access to users data including location, browsing, and search history “threatens to allow the Chinese communist party access to American’s personal and proprietary information-potentially allowing China to track the location of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage”.
This order will surely affect some big tech companies in the U.S in one way or the other connected to these Chinese companies directly or indirectly. Tencent, for example, is a stakeholder in Spotify, Warner Music, Snap, Reddit, Epic Games, Riot Games, and so many more tech companies.
The idea behind the ban is to restrict any U.S company from transacting any business deal with both Chinese companies. How that will work, we have no idea but will find out in 45 days if Microsoft fails to buy Tik Tok.