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US to ban TikTok, WeChat downloads

Washington DC, Sep 18 (efe-epa).- Downloads of popular social media app TikTok and using messaging service WeChat, both based in China, will be prohibited from 20 September, the United States Department of Commerce said Friday.

A full ban on TikTok’s use would come into effect on 12 November in line with the 90-day deadline President Donald Trump set for its parent company, ByteDance, to sell the platform.

Department of Commerce Secretary Wlibur Ross said: “Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party.

“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 US laws and regulations.”

TikTok has between 80-100 million users in the US, whereas WeChat, owned by Tencent, has around 20 million users.

In the statement, the Department of Commerce said that from 20 September TikTok and WeChat would no longer be permitted on US app stores. Any service designed to enable the functioning of the app would also be prohibited.

The US government believes that user data stored by TikTok, such as location and personal information, could be accessed by the Chinese government, something the apps and the Chinese government deny.

TikTok says it stores its US data in the US and Singapore, adding that and has erected software barriers to ensure the information is kept separate from ByteDance’s data banks.

Beijing says that Trump’s offensive against TikTok is just the latest skirmish in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies and says a forced sale of the video-sharing app would breach World Trade Organization rules.

TikTok entered sale discussions with American companies such as Microsoft in the summer.

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