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Donald Trump signs order banning TikTok, WeChat

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Following the footsteps of India that was quick to ban 106 Chinese apps over security concerns, US President Donald Trump has banned two major Chinese apps–TikTok and WeChat. Donald Trump has already signed two separate executive orders on Thursday banning the apps.

Trump has termed the apps as a threat to national security and the US’s economy. The ban will come into effect in 45 days.

India first country to ban Chinese apps

India was the first country to ban TikTok and WeChat, citing national security concerns. It has banned as many as 106 Chinese apps—a move welcomed by US lawmakers. The move was also welcomed by the Trump administration.

Chinese apps threat to US national security

In a communique to the Congress, Trump said the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by the companies in China continues to threaten the national security. He said these apps are also a threat to foreign policy and the economy of the US.

Also Read: India’s COVID-19 tally gallops past 20 lakh-mark

“At this time, the order takes action to address one mobile application in particular, TikTok,” he said.

TikTok collects information from American users

TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd, automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, Trump said.

This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information. The app potentially allowing China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage, he alleged.

TikTok censors content based on Chinese interests

TikTok also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive. These include content concerning protests in Hong Kong and China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. TikTok may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party, the President said.

What the order state?

“To deal with this threat, the order prohibits, beginning 45 days after the date of this order, to the extent permitted under applicable law, any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd. (a.k.a. Zijie Tiaodong), Beijing, China, or its subsidiaries, in which any such company has any interest, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary),” Trump said.

Donald Trump delegated power to the commerce secretary to take such actions, including adopting appropriate rules and regulations. The commerce secretary can employ all powers granted to the President by International Emergency Economic Powers Act as may be necessary to implement the order.

The order also directs all departments and agencies to take all appropriate measures within their authority to implement the order, Trump said.

WeChat also collects user info

In a separate executive order, Trump said WeChat reportedly has over one billion users worldwide. It has millions of users in the US. , WeChat is a messaging, social media and electronic payment application owned by the Chinese company Tencent Holdings Limited.

“Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. It threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information,” he said.

WeChat used for tracking Chinese nationals visiting the US

The App also captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States. As a result, it provides the Chinese Communist Party a mechanism for keeping tabs on Chinese citizens who may be enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives, he alleged.

WeChat censors information based on Chinese govt’s interests

“WeChat, like TikTok, also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive. The application may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party,” Trump said.

 

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