TikTok and WeChat will be banned from US app stores starting on Sunday, September 20th, the US Department of Commerce (DoC) has announced. The Chinese-owned apps from Tencent and ByteDance will not only be banned from the iOS App Store and Google’s Play Store, but companies are barred from hosting them in the US.
The move was taken “at the President’s direction,” according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “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,” he said in a statement. “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 US.”
The app ban has come despite a possible partnership between Oracle and ByteDance. Yesterday, Trump said that he didn’t like that deal, according to Bloomberg, while adding that he was “not prepared to sign off on anything.”
The DoC’s wording makes clear that it wants the apps to disappear in the US. It has not only banned the apps, code and updates, but any payments associated with WeChat. It also prohibits:
Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the U.S.;
Any utilization of the mobile application’s constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the U.S.
All of that means that the White House is trying to leave no loopholes that would allow access to the app. And since it dropped the news on Friday, with the ban going effect Sunday, ByteDance and its partners will have little to no time to attempt to delay or reverse the decision. It will also force hosting services to react quickly to remove the app.
TikTok has 100 million users in the US, while WeChat has 19 million daily active users, according to Reuters. The order doesn’t prevent companies from hosting WeChat and TikTok outside the US, not does it affect other Tencent games and apps.