By Adedapo Adesanya
The United States Government has issued an order on Friday that will bar residents of the country from downloading Chinese-owned video-sharing app, TikTok, starting on September 20.
Users in the country will be stopped from downloading the video app as well as a Chinese-owned messaging app, WeChat from Sunday.
President Donald Trump and the US government had threatened to ban the app amid accusations that their Chinese owners mean that American data could be put at risk.
People who already have the app installed will still be able to use it as normal but they will not be able to download new updates, which could quickly mean the app’s functionality will break, since developers will not be able to fix bugs or make changes.
However, the US will not deplatform the two apps in Apple, Google Play and others from offering the apps through their stores in other countries.
ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has been in talks with Oracle Corp and others to create a new company, TikTok Global, that aims to address US concerns about the security of its users’ data. The deal, if it eventually scales through, could overturn the ban.
Mr Trump has already raised concerns about the Chinese ownership of the app, while several US senators have complained that the deal would allow ByteDance to retain control of the algorithm that selects which videos to show to each user.
The removal of TikTok and WeChat from US app stores implements the first two executive orders issued by Mr Trump, which said US companies would be barred from dealing with the apps from September 20. The President later issued a third order that gave ByteDance until November 12 to divest its interests in TikTok in the US.
In early August, Mr Trump signed an executive order that set a deadline of September 20 for the sale of TikTok. In recent remarks, the President had said there would be no extension of that order – though he also falsely suggested that the deadline would come on 15 September.
The executive order said that if the deadline was reached and the app was still under Chinese ownership, the US would ban “any transaction by any person” with Bytedance.
The reason for the clampdown can be summarised as the US seeing apps developed and owned by companies in China as the threats to the national security, foreign policy, and its economy.
It accused the app of capturing vast information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories as well as censoring content on behalf of the Chinese government and helping with the country’s disinformation campaigns.
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