×

US bans WeChat, TikTok from app stores citing security risk

By TALI ARBEL, MATT O’BRIEN and MATT OTT

AP Technology Writers

The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday it will ban Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat from U.S. app stores on Sunday and will saddle the apps with technical restrictions that could seriously limit their functionality in the U.S.

The order, which cited national security and data privacy concerns, follows weeks of dealmaking over the video-sharing service TikTok. President Donald Trump has pressured the app’s Chinese owner to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to a domestic company. It is not clear how the latest prohibitions will affect a deal recently struck by California tech giant Oracle aimed at satisfying U.S. concerns over TikTok’s data collection and related issues.

TikTok expressed “disappointment” over the move and said it would continue to challenge President Donald Trump’s “unjust executive order.” The Commerce Department is enacting an order announced by President Donald Trump in August. TikTok sued to stop that ban.

Google and Apple, the owners of the major mobile app stores, did not immediately reply to questions. Neither did WeChat owner Tencent. Oracle, which has proposed a deal with TikTok aimed at averting such a ban, also did not reply.

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

The action is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to counter the influence of China, a rising economic superpower. Since taking office in 2017, Trump has waged a trade war with China, blocked mergers involving Chinese companies and stifled the business of Chinese firms like Huawei, a maker of phones and telecom equipment.

China-backed hackers, meanwhile, have been blamed for data breaches of U.S. federal databases and the credit agency Equifax, and the Chinese government strictly limits what U.S. tech companies can do in China.

The order requires WeChat, which has millions of U.S. users who rely on the app to stay in touch and conduct business with people and companies in China, to end payments through its service as of Sunday and prohibits it from getting technical services from vendors that could seriously impact its functions.

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
   

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today