American TikTok fans would be heavily disappointed today as the US Commerce Department has ruled that TikTok and WeChat will be axed from all mobile app stores in the country starting September 20. However, there’s a distinction. Users who have already downloaded TikTok will be allowed to use the app till 12th November, well after the U.S. election, while the same courtesy has not been extended to WeChat.
This means that from 20th September, neither WeChat nor TikTok will be allowed to provide updates to their users. Moreover, new users will also be prohibited from joining either platforms starting this Sunday. Additionally, the use of WeChat for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S. will be prohibited.
Moreover, activities such as “provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S”, “provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application”, and ” 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.” will be banned for WeChat starting 20th September, and for TikTok starting 12th November.
To put it in layman’s term, WeChat is going down from this Sunday, while TikTok will just be removed from mobile app stores, and allowed to operate till 12th of November.
This leaves ample time for any American companies engaged in negotiations with ByteDance to complete the talks. Moreover, the TikTok ban coming after the elections will supposedly also help ensure that Trump does not lose the confidence of young America.
“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,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
The decision follows the executive order by Donald Trump last month to ban transactions with ByteDance and WeChat, after the government grew wary of the alleged threat posed by Chinese apps to the privacy of Americans.
The executive order from President Trump set forth a chain events that saw many American companies fighting over TikTok’s business in the country . Microsoft was initially the frontrunner, but later dropped out of the race altogether. Later, Oracle emerged out of nowhere to make the highest bid and lead the talks around TikTok’s possible comeback in US. However, much like everything that has perspired in the last few months where TikTok is involved, even that deal didn’t see the light of the day, as ByteDance denied any such partnership.
A new report from yesterday proposed the birth of a new entity called “TikTok global,” with a majority ownership of American companies. Oracle, the current ‘leader’ in the TikTok deal would have held 20% of the new entity, with other players like Walmart and even Microsoft earning a smaller percentage. This arrangement could still happen, especially since the ban has been virtually pushed to a later date.