Washington: US President Donald Trump has signed executive orders banning popular Chinese apps like ‘TikTok’ and ‘WeChat’. The US President has termed them a threat to the national security and to the country’s economy. The ban comes into effect in 45 days, Donald Trump said in his two separate executive orders signed on Thursday.
India was the first country to ban ‘TikTok’ and ‘WeChat’, citing national security concerns. India has banned as many as 106 Chinese apps, a move welcomed by both the Trump administration and the US lawmakers.
In a communique to the Congress, the US president had observations to make. He said the spread in the US of mobile applications developed and owned by the companies in China is a hazard. They continue to threaten national security, foreign policy, and economy of the country. “At this time, the order takes action to address one mobile application in particular, TikTok,” Trump said.
‘TikTok’ is a video-sharing mobile application owned by the Chinese company ‘ByteDance Ltd’. It 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. It potentially allows China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors. China can build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage, alleged the Us president.
‘TikTok’ also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive. It has in the past censored 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 China.
“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. (aka 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.
The US president power to the Commerce Secretary to take such actions, including adopting appropriate rules and regulations, and to 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 department and agencies to take all appropriate measures within their authority to implement the order, Trump said.
In separate executive order, Trump said ‘WeChat’, a messaging, social media, and electronic payment application owned by the Chinese company ‘Tencent Holdings Ltd’reportedly has over one billion users worldwide, including users in the United States.
“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’ also captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States. It thereby allows 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.
In recent weeks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused ‘TikTok’ of collecting personal information of Americans.