A picture of U.S. President Donald Trump is seen on a smartphone in front of displayed Tik Tok and WeChat logos in this illustration taken September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The Trump administration banned popular app TikTok as well as WeChat from app stores for Americans. The actions, which will take effect Sunday, follow an August 6 executive order by the president, who contended that the two Chinese-owned apps collected data from American users that could be accessed by China’s government. “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,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

Apple and Google will still offer the app outside of the U.S., and a judge may halt the order. The order allows TikTok to operate in the U.S. until Nov. 12 for those who download it before Sunday, but it would prevent patches and updates to the app. Oracle and WalMart may buy TikTok, which could lift the ban, but Trump must bless the sale first. 

It was unclear if Apple and Google would follow the order, as they didn’t respond to requests for comment. TikTok expressed disappointment in a statement and said it had already implement “unprecedented” levels of transparency. “Our community of 100 million U.S. users love TikTok because it’s a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection,” the statement read, “and we’re committed to protecting their privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Sleepy Wilbur Ross ‘Bans’ Tik Tok For Trump – Crooks and Liars – 9/18/2020
My kids weren’t going to vote for Trump anyway, obviously, but their less politically obsessed friends now have a reason to GOTV. […] This decision is more than just politically stupid. Several tech-types have pointed out that by banning updates, the so-called administration is simply banning security patches that make the existing app safer.

Feds To Ban TikTok And WeChat Downloads In The U.S. Starting Sunday – The Federalist – 9/18/2020
“The only real change as of Sunday night will be [TikTok users] won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business.

Trump Is Wrong About TikTok. China’s Plans Are Much More SinisterThe New York Times – 9/18/2020
To some, that concern may seem excessive or its timing politically opportunistic, but the danger posed by TikTok is real: In fact, it is only a stand-in for far greater risks. The problem isn’t just TikTok. The tech giant Huawei — which the U.S. government blacklisted last year, calling it a threat to America’s national security — is another company with close connections to China. So is Zoom, the U.S.-based teleconferencing service provider established by a billionaire Chinese immigrant, which uses software partially developed in China.

Impending WeChat ban won’t actually ban users from WeChat, DOJ says – Ars Technica – 9/17/2020
Three days before a ban on the use of China-owned app WeChat in the United States is supposed to take effect, the Trump administration still hasn’t said what specifically is being banned—only that individuals will not be penalized for using the app, despite the alleged threat it presents to national security.

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