India recently banned several Chinese apps, and now the US, following the pursuit, has decided to bar people from using the popular TikTok app and the multi-purpose app- WeChat. The US Department of Commerce announced that it would prohibit people from downloading messaging and video-sharing apps owned by Chinese companies through any app store.
The administration cited the Chinese companies’ threat to the US national security and transfer of salient data to the host country. As per the plan, the WeChat app will be banned from US app stores from today. In contrast, the TikTok app is given nearly one a half month exit window until November 12.
“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 US laws and regulations,” the US Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
Acknowledging the threats posed by TikTok and WeChat to be somewhat similar, the department cited that each collects a massive amount of data from users like location data, network activity, browsing, and search histories. Following the order, users won’t be able to transfer funds any longer via WeChat.
TikTok, a video-sharing platform popular among youngsters, has witnessed considerable growth in the US. But with trade-war and tension escalating due to pandemic, the US administration has now become concerned with their people’s privacy and security on the e-hub.
As per the BBC report, TikTok was “disappointed” with the move and denied accusations made by the US government. Citing it to be an ‘unjust executive order,’ ByteDance, its parent company, filed a lawsuit against the US administration last Friday.
The complaint (via Bloomberg) stating the ban imposed due to political reasons but fabricated as an ‘extraordinary threat’ would destroy TikTok’s online community (accounting more than a million users) in the US. Meanwhile, WeChat users in the US are also said to have filed a lawsuit following the Trump administration ban.
While these Chinese apps have separately filed a lawsuit, China taking the matter in its hand, has launched a mechanism enabling it to sanction on foreign entities whose activities would harm its sovereignty and security.
“China urges the US to abandon bullying, cease (its) wrongful actions, and earnestly maintain fair and transparent international rules and order,” Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday.
Notably, several countries besides India and the US are conducting investigations on the Chinese apps’ privacy policies and their ‘handling of users’ data.’ TikTok had over 200 million users in India. But the Indian government banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps when tension escalated between the two countries following the death of 20 soldiers in a border clash (at Galwan Valley in Ladakh) with Chinese troops in June.
With the escalating row between the US and China, the question now remains whether TikTok will face the same fate. The Chinese app still has 45 days until it shut completely, and with recent talks of US firm Oracle’s alleged partnership with ByteDance, the popular video-sharing social network might yet have a chance to survive the battle.