American users of the popular Chinese social media platforms, TikTok and WeChat might be blocked from new updates in the Apple App Store and Google Play store from Sunday, Commerce Dept. told Fox News.
Defending the move, the department said it was necessary to “safeguard the national security of the United States.”
This essentially means the US federal government is moving ahead with Trump’s executive orders from August 1 which is set to take effect soon after the 45-days threshold is crossed.
As per Trump’s orders from earlier last month, any US companies will be barred from doing business with the TikTok and WeChat and the Dept. of Commerce will make sure the law is in effect after 45-days of the order.
“The only real change as of Sunday night will be [TikTok users] won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Fox Business on Sunday morning.
It means, the existing app users may continue to use the apps as of Sunday, but will not be able to update the app to the next version from app stores and new downloads will be blocked, CNN reported.
Coming into effect from September 20, for WeChat, the rules are stricter – the US government will bar ‘any provision of internet hosting services’ through the app. The same will be in effect for TikTok from November Nov. 12, a Dept. of Commerce press release said.
One of the reasons the US department cited for the ban is: “Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP.”
“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,” U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was quoted as saying.
“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.”
None of the companies involved in the app ban, including Apple and Google respond to CNN’s request for comments.