News Brief

Trump Administration Bans Chinese Apps TikTok And WeChat 'To Protect The National Security Of The United States'

Swarajya Staff

Sep 19, 2020, 11:48 AM | Updated 11:48 AM IST

Image Courtesy: DTnext
Image Courtesy: DTnext

Citing national security concerns, U.S announced on Friday (Sep 18) that it is banning downloads and use of popular Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat.

The U.S commerce department accused TitTok and Wechat of collecting vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories. The U.S commerce department said that the two Chinese companies were active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and are subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP.  This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security, the U.S commerce department said

Wilbur Ross, the secretary of U.S commerce department issued regulations that will bar U.S. corporations from providing downloads or updates for the TikTok and WeChat apps after 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

A press note released by the Department of Commerce (Commerce) said

In response to President Trump’s Executive Orders signed August 6, 2020, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today announced prohibitions on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the United States. 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.

“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,” Wilbur Ross said.

“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.” he added.

Commerce department said it would allow U.S. companies to continue providing web-hosting services for TikTok through Nov. 12, that will provide a breather forBeijing- based owner of TikTok, ByteDance Ltd., and Oracle Corp. to create a new U.S.-based owner of the video-sharing app.

In a bid to address serious concerns flagged by Trump administration over the contours of the proposed Oracle-TikTok partnership deal to operate the U.S operations of Chinese video app TikTok, potential suitors are finalising a revised plan to create a ownership structure that would see U.S.companies retain a majority stake.

On Sep 14, just one day ahead of the deadline that U.S President Donald Trump set for ByteDance to divest TikTok’s US operations or risk being blacklisted in America, Beijing-based company confirmed that it has accepted a partnership offer from Oracle on TikTok’s US operations.

Under the first plan submitted to Trump administration for a comprehensive review, TikTok’s Chinese owner, Bytedance Ltd. would have retained a majority of the company’s assets, with Oracle acquiring a minority stake. Bytedance also retained control over TikTok’s algorithms which is widely viewed as providing critical edge to the Chinese app. Under the plan, it was also proposed that Bytedance will move data on American users of Tiktok to Oracle’s cloud-computing infrastructure and house that information only in the US.

Top Trump administration officials reportedly raised red flag over Oracle’s proposal for TikTok’s U.S. operations deeming it to fall short of satisfying national-security concerns.

Under the revised plan a new entity to control U.S operations of TikTok will see Oracle Corp and Walmart Inc coming together to own a significant stake. Their participation, together with existing U.S.-based ByteDance investors like Sequoia Capital, General Atlantic and Coatue Management LLC, could push U.S. ownership in the new entity above 50%.

Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon is expected to get a board seat in the new entity, WSJ reported. Walmart has been looking to ramp up its online presence to generate new revenue streams.

ByteDance is also said to have agreed to allow Oracle to review TikTok’s source code and software to ensure there are no backdoors that allow the Chinese government or other entities to access the data.

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