FILE - Icons for the smartphone apps TikTok and WeChat are seen on a smartphone screen in Beijing, in a Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 file photo. The Commerce Department said President Trump’s proposed ban of the apps WeChat and TikTok will go into effect Sunday, Sept. 20, to “safeguard the national security of the United States.” The government said its order, previously announced by Trump in August, will “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.” (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

U.S. bans WeChat, TikTok citing privacy, national security

TikTok says it does not store U.S. user data in China and that it would not give user data to the government

The U.S. will ban the downloads of the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat on Sunday, with a total ban on the use of the latter, citing national security and data privacy concerns.

A total ban on the use of TikTok will follow on Nov. 12, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said early Friday on Fox Business Network that access to that app may be possible if certain safeguards are put into place.

“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,” Ross said in a prepared statement.

The government said its order, previously announced by President Donald Trump in August, will “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.”

The government order also raises questions about California tech giant Oracle’s recent deal to take over U.S. operations of TikTok, a requirement by the Trump administration for the app to continue operating in the U.S.

Details of the Oracle-TikTok deal were sketchy at best. Oracle was among the pool of bidders, including Microsoft and Walmart, to buy TikTok’s American operations.

Oracle, in confirming it was the winning bidder Monday, didn’t refer to the deal as a sale or acquisition, instead saying it was chosen as TikTok’s “trusted technology provider.”

It’s unclear at this point what assets, if any, Oracle would actually acquire.

Some security experts have raised concerns that ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese company that owns TikTok, would maintain access to information on the 100 million TikTok users in the United States, creating a security risk.

Like most social networks, TikTok collects user data and moderates users’ posts. It grabs users’ locations and messages and tracks what they watch to figure out how best to target ads to them.

Similar concerns apply to U.S.-based social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but Chinese ownership adds an extra wrinkle because the Chinese government could order companies to help it gather intelligence.

TikTok says it does not store U.S. user data in China and that it would not give user data to the government. But experts say the Chinese government can get any information it wants from companies there.

The action is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to weaken influence from 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.

Republican and Democratic lawmaker concerns about TikTok include its vulnerability to censorship and misinformation campaigns, and the safety of user data and children’s privacy. But the administration has provided no specific evidence that TikTok has made U.S. users’ data available to the Chinese government.

Officials point to the hypothetical threat that lies in the Chinese government’s ability to demand co-operation from Chinese companies.

Matt Ott, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpTikTok

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

The centre will open up for child care services on Nov. 2. File photo
Construction complete on Goat Mountain Child Care Centre

Centre staff will begin delivering child care services on Nov. 2

The house is located near two schools. Photo: Connor Trembley
Dog attack seriously injures young boy in Castlegar

Despite investigating the incident, city staff aren’t confirming if the dog has been put down

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Affordable housing

Eighth in a series of Q&As with the candidates.

Environment Canada has issued a snow warning for the Kootenays on Friday. File photo
Environment Canada issues snow warning for Friday

Two-to-10 centimetres is expected to fall

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

More and more electric cars are on the road, but one Chevy Bolt owner was shocked to see how much his BC Hydro bill skyrocketed once he started charging the vehicle. (Black Press file photo)
Lower Mainland man sees significant spike in BC Hydro bill after buying electrical vehicle

An increase should be expected, but Brian Chwiendacz experienced a 200-plus per cent hike

The Anonymous YVR is an Instagram page that reviews restaurants and other establishments around B.C. based on how well they adhere to COVID-19 rules. (Instagram)
Anonymous Instagram page reviews COVID-19 safety measures at B.C. businesses

There are a number of public health orders various types of establishments must follow to slow virus’s spread

Most Read