President Trump has announced this week that he will be banning all U.S. transactions with Chinese-owned applications WeChat and TikTok within the next 45 days if it not acquired by a U.S. company. The president cites research data that was published in March 2019 that discovered a Chinese database was storing billions of privates messages on WeChat in numerous countries, including the U.S., while TikTok was reportedly censoring content deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese Communist Party.
Trump wrote in an executive order that WeChat “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
“In addition, the application captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States, thereby allowing the Chinese Communist Party a mechanism for keeping tabs on Chinese citizens who may be enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives,” he continued.
“These risks have led other countries, including Australia and India, to begin restricting or banning the use of WeChat. The United States must take aggressive action against the owner of WeChat to protect our national security.”
China-based tech company Tencent currently owns WeChat, while ByteDance owns TikTok. Microsoft has announced plans to purchase the popular video app from ByteDance and is currently in talks with the company to make the September deadline. The social app has refuted the president’s claims of data sharing. CNBC has reported that the company stores its U.S. user data within the country itself in addition to a backup database in Singapore so the information is not subject to Chinese law.
“For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the U.S. government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed,” the company said in a statement, according to CNBC.
“What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”