Published Sep 18, 2020The Trump administration has officially moved to ban the video and music sharing app TikTok with countrywide app store takedowns beginning this Sunday (September 20). Additionally, the Chinese-owned messaging app, WeChat, is also on the chopping block.
While the existing 100 million U.S. TikTok users will continue to have access to the video platform temporarily, aspiring American users will be out of luck after this weekend. After Sunday, app updates and software maintenance will also be halted.
However, U.S. commerce officials said the ban on new TikTok downloads could be still rescinded by President Donald Trump before it takes effect late Sunday.
U.S. officials announced today that TikTok will be completely erased nationwide on November 12, following the American presidential election, if its owners can't strike a deal that appeases national security concerns over foreign data collection.
That gives ByteDance Ltd. — the Chinese company that owns TikTok — less than two months to sort out a deal with potential U.S. buyer Oracle, if they want to continue service in the U.S. past November. Previously, Microsoft and Walmart were among the bidders to take over TikTok's U.S. operations, but failed to outbid Oracle, who dealt the winning offer on Monday (September 14).
WeChat, meanwhile, will see a full shutdown south of the border alongside TikTok's new restrictions on Sunday.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said [via TMZ] that Trump "will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party."
Ross added in a statement, "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."
A TikTok representative told TMZ that the company is disappointed with the decision, considering that it has "already committed to unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do."
The app, much like other social networks including American-owned Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, gathers user data to better tailor advertisements. Security officials in the U.S. fear the Chinese government's ability to access that data could pose an intelligence risk.
As reported in December last year, TikTok was the seventh most-downloaded app of the decade, behind Snapchat and Skype.
So far, it remains unclear how or if Trump's ban will affect Canadian markets.