UPDATE 2: A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction, which temporarily halts the removal of WeChat from US app stores today, CNN reports. “There are obvious alternatives to a complete ban, such as barring WeChat from government devices, as Australia has done, or taking other steps to address data security,” says Judge Laurel Beeler.
UPDATE: The Commerce Department has delayed plans to yank the TikTok app from US app stores from Sept. 20 to Sept. 27 after President Trump gave an Oracle-Walmart deal “preliminary approval.” If the deal gains final approval, TikTok will presumably not be removed at all. For now, it still requires “necessary documentation and conditions to be approved by CFIUS,” the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the Treasury Department says.
The executive orders President Trump signed in August are set to cripple both TikTok and WeChat, at least for US users.
Effective Sept. 20, US users will not be able to download TikTok from mobile app stores. WeChat will also be shut down and prohibited from transferring funds or processing payments in the US, the US Commerce Department said today. If a deal is not reached to sell TikTok to a US company by Nov. 12, meanwhile, the app will shut down.
US Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the move is intended to “protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party [and] 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.”
More specific details regarding which transactions are prohibited are included in the release, but they include the use of internet hosting, content delivery networks, internet transit and peering services, or mobile apps for the purpose of “enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the US.”
The US government is also aware that other apps may see an opportunity to fill the gap left by WeChat and TikTok. “Should the US Government determine that WeChat’s or TikTok’s illicit behavior is being replicated by another app somehow outside the scope of these executive orders, the President has the authority to consider whether additional orders may be appropriate to address such activities,” Commerce says.
Also key is the inclusion of this sentence in the release: “The President has provided until November 12 for the national security concerns posed by TikTok to be resolved. If they are, the prohibitions in this order may be lifted.” According to CNBC, President Trump is set to announce whether Oracle’s “Trusted Technology Provider” bid for TikTok has gained government approval today, which could potentially result in the prohibitions being lifted before the Nov. 12 deadline.