US bans WeChat, TikTok citing national security

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FILE – Icons for the smartphone apps TikTok and WeChat are seen on a smartphone screen in Beijing, in a Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 file photo. The Commerce Department said President Trump’s proposed ban of the apps WeChat and TikTok will go into effect Sunday, Sept. 20, to “safeguard the national security of the United States.” The government said its order, previously announced by Trump in August, will “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.” (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

WASHINGTON  |  The U.S. will ban the use of WeChat Sunday to “safeguard the national security of the United States.”

The Chinese app TikTok will also be banned by Nov. 12, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said early Friday on Fox Business News that access to that app may be possible if certain safeguards are in place.

“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,” Ross said in a prepared statement.

The government said its order, previously announced by Trump in August, will “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.”

The government previously said that using and downloading the app to communicate won’t be a banned transaction, although messaging on the app “could be directly or indirectly impaired” by the ban, and people who use it for messaging won’t be subject to penalties.

Some security experts have raised concerns that ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese company that owns TikTok, would maintain access to information on the 100 million TikTok users in the United States, creating a security risk.