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)

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

Nanaimo RCMP hope the public can help them find a 16-year-old who has been missing since Sunday. (Photo submitted)
UPDATE: 16-year-old Nanaimo boy located safe

Teen had been reported missing last week and it was thought he may have left town

The Regional District of Nanaimo plans to make its operations more efficient as it works on long-term goals around carbon-neutrality. (PQB News file photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo works to become carbon neutral by 2032

RDN committee of the whole members endorse plan developed by consultant

The Millstone River in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Regional district looks at value of Nanaimo’s natural assets

Report focused on the Millstone River could inform future decisions on corporate asset management

Protesters gather along the Pearson Bridge on Terminal Avenue in downtown Nanaimo last month as part of an event called Worth More Standing. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: B.C. hasn’t managed forests properly

Protesters opposing logging in Fairy Creek speak for many British Columbians, say letter writers

Nanaimo singer Victoria Vaughn recently released an EP with local producer Austin Penner. (Photo courtesy Taylor Murray)
Nanaimo singer and recent VIU grad releases EP about becoming an adult

Victoria Vaughn’s ‘Growing Pains’ recorded with local producer Austin Penner

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future finally surfaces at Royal B.C. Museum

Museum dives into the world of the killer whale as delayed feature exhibition now open

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

The Nanaimo Clippers are seeking assistance in raising money for Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. Texting NANKIDS to 41010 will see a $10 donation to the food bank. (Submitted photo)
Nanaimo Clippers look to assist food bank with fundraising goal

People can text-to-donate to support Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank

Polystyrene has been outlawed as a take-out option for restaurants in Tofino and Ucluelet. (Black Press Media file photo)
Styrofoam done as a takeout option on Island’s Pacific Rim

Tofino and Ucluelet ban polystyrene take-out containers

Most Read