- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2020

The Department of Commerce said Friday that it would start banning U.S. transactions with TikTok and WeChat beginning on Sunday.

The Commerce Department said it will implement the ban of the China-owned social media apps under authority provided by President Trump’s August 2020 executive order and will do so to safeguard Americans’ national security.

“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,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “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.”

Starting Sunday, companies will be prevented from distributing TikTok and WeChat for download in the U.S. from app stores, such as those operated via Apple and Google on any devices, per the Commerce Department’s announcement. The Trump administration is also blocking companies from transferring funds or processing payments through WeChat in the U.S.

Mr. Ross attempted to clarify how the bans would be enacted differently against TikTok and WeChat in an interview on Fox Business Network on Friday.

“For all practical purposes, [WeChat] will be shut down in the U.S., but only in the U.S., as of midnight on Monday, by the Commerce Department ruling,” Mr. Ross said on Fox Business. “TikTok is more complicated because, in effect, there are two alternatives there. One is the rules that we’ll be announcing right now and the other is if there is a transaction completed by November 12th. … So as to TikTok, the only real change as of Sunday night will be — won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps, or maintenance. So if that were to continue over a long period of time, there might be a gradual degradation of services. But the basic TikTok will stay intact until November 12th.”

WeChat is a social messaging app owned by the Chinese company Tencent, and TikTok is a video-based social media platform owned by the China-based ByteDance. The Commerce Department’s forthcoming blockade of TikTok arrives as the Trump administration is separately reviewing a proposal for Oracle to acquire TikTok.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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