President Donald Trump to block U.S. downloads of TikTok and WeChat on Sunday
The commerce department announced Friday morning that it would ban U.S. business transactions with China-owned social apps WeChat and TikTok on Sunday. CNBC’s Eamon Javers reports. Subscribe to CNBC PRO for access to investor and analyst insights on TikTok and more: https://cnb.cx/3dIH56N
The Commerce Department announced Friday morning that it will ban U.S. business transactions with Chinese-owned social apps WeChat and TikTok on Sunday.
The announcement comes ahead of an expected statement Friday by President Donald Trump on whether or not the government will approve a deal for Oracle to take a minority stake in TikTok and become a “trusted technology partner” for the company in the U.S. The White House announced a press conference with Trump will be held at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday.
The Commerce Department’s announcements leaves room for a deal to go through before the Sunday deadline, and it could be an aggressive move from the Trump administration to push for its original intention to force TikTok to become fully owned by a U.S. company.
“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.” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in the announcement.
The department’s move is an enforcement of Trump’s original executive order from Aug. 6 that gave TikTok 45 days to sell its U.S. business to an American company or face a ban in this country. The end of the 45-day period is Sunday. WeChat, one of the world’s most popular social messaging apps, is owned by the Chinese company Tencent. TikTok’s parent company is Beijing-based ByteDance. Trump’s executive order cited national security concerns over the Chinese government’s access to user data in those apps to justify the potential ban.
The Commerce statement said that starting Sunday, U.S. companies will be banned from distributing WeChat and TikTok, meaning the two major mobile app stores run by Apple and Google will have to remove the apps from their libraries. The statement also blocks U.S. companies from providing services through WeChat “for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.”
But the announcement also lays out a separate time frame specific to TikTok, giving it until Nov. 12 to resolve the U.S. national security concerns. The rules that start Nov. 12 include provisions that block U.S. companies from providing internet hosting and services for TikTok. This could be directed at the deal being negotiated between TikTok and Oracle, which would provide cloud services for TikTok if Trump approves, and could give TikTok and Oracle more time to hammer out a deal that will satisfy the president.
In an interview with Fox Business on Friday, Ross said the bans will affect TikTok and WeChat differently at first. He said TikTok will still function, but users will not be able to upgrade the app.
“It’s not doing the same thing to TikTok as to WeChat,” Ross told Fox. “As to TikTok, it’s just upgrades, maintenance things like that, that would be shut down at this stage. The real shutdown would come after Nov. 12 in the event that there is not another transaction. So it’s very different how the way the two are being handled.”
Commerce Department officials who spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity Friday slightly contradicted Ross’ statements on Fox Business and said neither TikTok nor WeChat will be available to download as of midnight Sunday.
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