Washington DC, Aug 6 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States signed two executive orders on Thursday banning any transaction with the owners of popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat over national security reasons.
The orders prohibit transactions related to short video app TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, as well as messaging app WeChat and its owner Tencent Holdings by any person or property subject to jurisdiction in the US, to take effect in 45 days.
“The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security,” Donald Trump said in the order.
The Trump administration is pushing for TikTok’s sale to an American company such as Microsoft, which has shown interest in the popular app.
“This data collection (by TikTok) threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” the order said.
Similar wording was used in the WeChat order.
Trump claimed the risks posed by TikTok to the US were “real” which is why he was banning any transaction with ByteDance, a move that could force it to sell the app in the next 45 days.
Earlier this week, Trump had threatened to ban TikTok, which according to the US government has been downloaded over 175 million times in the country, unless it was sold to an American company before that date.
“I don’t mind whether it’s Microsoft or someone else, a big company, a secure company, a very American company buys it,” the president said at the White House on Monday.
On Sunday, Microsoft announced that it was pursuing negotiations with ByteDance for the possible purchase of TikTok in the US and promised to complete the operation no later than September.
The Trump administration, as well as prominent Democrats, have insisted that the widespread use of TikTok puts data privacy and national security at risk as it is exposed through ByteDance to instructions from and intervention by the Chinese government.
The order targeting WeChat said: “Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users.”
It also said that in March, 2019 “a researcher reportedly discovered a Chinese database containing billions of WeChat messages sent from users in not only China but also the United States, Taiwan, South Korea, and Australia.”
WeChat is a hugely popular messaging and social media platform in China where many outside websites, social media platforms and apps such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp are banned. EFE-EPA