• Thomas Parker

Trump bans Chinese-owned TikTok app

President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders prohibiting U.S. residents from doing business with the Chinese-owned applications TikTok and WeChat. The orders take effect 45 days from Trump's signing.

The mobile applications are a national security risk and could leave Americans' personal information exposed to the Chinese, according to the order. The bans mark a significant escalation by Trump in his confrontation with Beijing as the U.S. seeks to curb China’s power in global technology.

“To protect our Nation, I took action to address the threat posed by one mobile application, TikTok. Further action is needed to address a similar threat posed by another mobile application, WeChat,” Trump said in the order against WeChat, released minutes after the TikTok measure.

While WeChat hasn’t been widely adopted in the U.S., the ban would still have broad implications because it’s used by more than a billion people and is central to business and social communications with China. The measure blocks all transactions involving WeChat but doesn’t amount to a broader ban on dealings with Tencent, according to a U.S. official. The order against TikTok blocks all transactions in which its owner, ByteDance, or subsidiaries have an interest, the official said.

Earlier this week, Trump threatened to shut down TikTok if its owners didn’t sell the business to a U.S. company by September 15. Microsoft Corp. has been in talks about a possible purchase of TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

TikTok said in a blog post it is “shocked” by the order and will pursue all remedies available, including the U.S. courts. Tencent said it is reviewing the executive order to get a full understanding.

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