LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Commerce Department on Friday issued an order banning any transactions on TikTok and WeChat in the U.S., saying the Chinese-owned apps create “unacceptable risks to our national security.”
Starting Sunday, TikTok and WeChat will be banned from app stores, as will sending money or processing payments through WeChat. Existing users will not be able to receive updates.
The order seeks to “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
The U.S. Commerce Department said that the Chinese Communist Party has the “means and motives to use the apps to threaten national security, foreign policy, and the economy.
TikTok would need to be bought by a non-Chinese company within the next two months, or it could disappear entirely, said CNET senior reporter Shara Tibkin.
“The biggest concern is data,” Tibkin said. “So, when you download the app it asks to have access to your camera, and your microphone and your location data. So the fear is that this could be used by the Chinese for cyber espionage.”
TikTok has vowed to challenge the ban, and the ACLU has called it a violation of the first amendment.
The federal government no longer wants TikTok to be owned by its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. However, the company has proposed the Oracle, a U.S.-based technology firm, oversee it instead.
“They’d be able to look at their tech, and monitor the app to make sure no data is shared with China and that everything is secure, but it’s still unclear if the U.S. is going to approve that,” Tibkin said.
Alissa Mafrice — mom to 10-year-old Ali and 8-year-old Ryan — said her kids love TikTok.
“I think it’s a creative outlet,” she said.
The app isn’t going away just yet, but Mafrice says she is worried about what will happen if it does.
“They’ve enjoyed using it during the pandemic when they have had a lot of downtime, and this is how they see their friends, so they will be bummed,” she said.