- The US Commerce Department said it would ban US citizens from downloading TikTok and WeChat starting Sunday.
- The order bars Apple and Google from hosting the TikTok and WeChat apps on their US app storefronts.
- Apple and Google have not yet commented on the order.
- Sources told Reuters the ban could be rescinded before Sunday if TikTok manages to get the greenlight on its deal with Oracle before then.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The US said it would ban all TikTok and WeChat app downloads starting Sunday, according to a government order published Friday.
The order, issued by the US Commerce Department, effectively bars US citizens from downloading the two Chinese-owned apps from either Apple’s or Google’s app storefronts.
As of Sunday, the Commerce Department confirmed it would prohibit “any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the US.”
In practice, anyone using TikTok or WeChat on their phone won’t see the apps suddenly disappear. The order indicates the apps will stop being available via app stores, and anyone already using either service won’t receive software updates.
One part of the order does imply TikTok’s app would stop working starting November 12, since US hosting providers and content delivery networks will be barred from providing their services. The order adds: “The President has provided until November 12 for the national security concerns posed by TikTok to be resolved. If they are, the prohibitions in this order may be lifted.”
It is not clear what power the US government has to order Apple and Google to remove apps from their stores. Business Insider has contacted TikTok, Apple, and Google for comment.
According to an earlier Reuters report, the ban could still be rescinded ahead of Sunday if TikTok finalises its deal with US tech giant Oracle before the Sunday deadline.
Oracle and TikTok submitted a proposed deal to the US government for approval on Monday, with an eye to staving off earlier executive orders from President Donald Trump that would ban TikTok if its US business isn’t sold.
“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,” US Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a press statement Friday.
“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 US laws and regulations,” Ross added.
In two executive orders, on August 6 and 14, Trump characterised both TikTok and WeChat as national security risks because they are owned by Chinese companies.
The Trump administration has accused TikTok of passing along US user data to the Chinese government. TikTok denies this and is suing the US government over the order, alleging it was denied due process.
The orders were aimed at forcing TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell off TikTok’s US operation entirely. The deal it has now reached with Oracle is not an outright sale; instead Oracle would take a majority stake in TikTok and be designated its “trusted technology provider” in the US.
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