A recent report by Reuters claims that the U.S. Commerce Department plans to block downloads of the Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat in the United States by Sunday, September 20. This claim, made by three sources, could indicate the Trump White House is not satisfied by the Oracle deal to be a “trusted” partner for TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance. The Commerce Department has officially confirmed the Reuters report.
Reuters reports that three officials within the Trump administration told the news outlet that the U.S. Commerce Department plans to issue an order on Friday that would bar people in the United States from downloading the Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat by September 20.
Officials stated that the ban on new U.S. downloads of TikTok could be rescinded by President Trump before it takes effect late on Sunday as TikTok’s owner, the Chinese firm ByteDance, attempts to broker a deal with U.S. tech giant Oracle to enter a partnership that would hopefully alleviate President Trump’s national security concerns related to the app.
The Commerce Department has confirmed the report by releasing an order prohibiting TikTok and WeChat in the United States.
According to the Commerce Department order:
As of September 20, 2020, the following transactions are prohibited:
- Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S.;
- Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.
As of September 20, 2020, for WeChat and as of November 12, 2020, for TikTok, the following transactions are prohibited:
- 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.
Breitbart News recently reported that during a recent press conference, President Trump said that he expects to receive a report this week about Oracle’s bid to join a partnership with the Chinese-owned app TikTok but that he will not sign off on the deal until all fears of national security are alleviated.
“I’m not prepared to sign off on anything. I have to see the deal,” President Trump told White House reporters on Wednesday evening. “It has to be 100% as far as national security is concerned,” Trump said.
President Trump has previously stated that he would ban TikTok if it wasn’t sold to an American company. An executive order issued by President Trump on August 6 stated that the app “reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive,” is potentially a source for disinformation campaigns and “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.” Trump had praised Oracle’s bid during negotiations, but that was to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, not become a “trusted technology partner.”
The order from the Commerce Department will reportedly “deplatform” TikTok and WeChat in the U.S. and ban Apple and Google’s app store’s from offering the app son any platform “that can be reached from within the United States,” a senior Commerce official told Reuters.
The order will not ban U.S. companies from doing business on WeChat outside the United States and will not bar transactions with WeChat’s owner Tencent Holdings’ other businesses.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in the order’s announcement, “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. 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.”
Update: This story has been updated to reflect the Commerce Department’s official order, confirmed the Reuters report.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address email@example.com