TikTok Ban

PUBLISHED: 5:33 PM 7 Aug 2020

Trump Executive Order Effectively Bans TikTok After Senate Acts To Ban App From Gov. Devices

Most experts agree that TikTok is a Chinese app that is used for spying purposes.

Good. (Source: Young Turks YouTube Screenshot)

Earlier this week, President Trump threatened to ban TikTok, the Chinese app that most experts agree is used to spy on Americans, unless the app is bought by an American company.

Yesterday, he made good on that threat through executive order.

“The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” reads the executive order.

“At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok.”

CNET reported:

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Coming hours after the Senate voted unanimously to bar TikTok from all government devices, the order states that “any transaction by any person” with ByteDance or its subsidiaries will be prohibited in 45 days. This would likely mean that Apple and Google would no longer be able to court the app on their respective app stores, similar to the blacklisting of US companies dealing with Huawei.

It was one of two executive orders issued against Chinese tech companies, with [President] Trump following the TikTok ban with a similar executive order for WeChat, a messaging app owned by Chinese giant TenCent.

Like TikTok, the ban goes into effect in 45 days. The transaction ban is currently exclusive to WeChat, an official told the LA Times. If extended to the entirety of TenCent, it would have massive implications for the gaming industry. TenCent owns Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, and a major stake in Fortnite-maker Epic Games.

INBOX: @realDonaldTrump has signed an executive order to ban TikTok in 45 days. pic.twitter.com/1zR4HgCPVj

— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) August 7, 2020

The executive order detailing the threat posed by TikTok notably bars transactions with ByteDance, not TikTok. This presumably opens up the possibility of TikTok continuing to operate under Microsoft or another US company.

The concern stems from the data that TikTok and WeChat collects on their US users, as well as the perceived inability of Chinese companies like ByteDance and TenCent to reject requests from China’s ruling Communist Party (CCP) access that data. Often cited by critics of China is a 2017 law that requires its companies and citizens to comply with all matters of national security.

“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,” the order reads. “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.”

The executive order also cites reports that TikTok censors content in line with CCP guidelines, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre and the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, as reason for concern. Trump’s order on WeChat cited concern that the app, which had just under 900 million Chinese users in 2016, could be used to spy on Chinese nationalists who visit or immigrate to the US.

The US is the second country to legislate against TikTok in recent months, with India barring the app, along with over 50 other Chinese-made apps and games, in June.

India said it banned the apps for national security reasons following skirmishes between Chinese and Indian troops over disputed territory north of India and south of China that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. Australia also considered banning the app, but its prime minster on Wednesday said there was “no reason” to restrict the app “at this point.”