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Trump Administration to Ban Americans from Downloading TikTok, WeChat

The Commerce Department announced Friday that it would ban Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat and block new downloads of TikTok beginning Sunday over national security concerns.

“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 statement.

In an executive order last month, President Trump had effectively banned Tencent Holdings’ WeChat and Bytedance’s TikTok over national security concerns.

The president had given ByteDance 45 days — creating a September 20 deadline — to sell its U.S. TikTok operations to an American company or face a ban.

TikTok, which is in the midst of gaining approval from the U.S. government for a takeover of its U.S. operations, will be banned beginning November 12 if a deal is not approved.

Beginning Sunday, the transferring of funds or processing through WeChat will be banned in the U.S. and any company will be prohibited from offering hosting, content delivery networks or internet transit to the Chinese messaging and payment app.

“For all practical purposes, it will be shut down in the U.S., but only in the U.S., as of midnight Monday,” Ross told Fox Business.

The same restrictions will apply to TikTok beginning on November 12.

“The basic TikTok will stay intact until Nov. 12,” Ross said. “If there’s not a deal by Nov. 12 under the provisions of the old order, then TikTok would also be, for all practical purposes, shut down.”

TikTok said in a statement Friday that it disagrees with the Commerce Department’s decision and vowed to challenge the “unjust” executive order.

“We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods,” the company wrote.

TikTok argued that in a proposal submitted to the Trump administration that would make California-based tech firm Oracle a “technology partner” in a restructured TikTok that it had already committed to “unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do.”

Those proposals included adding third-party audits, verification of code security and U.S. government oversight of U.S. data security, the company said.

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