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US bans on TikTok, WeChat temporarily halted (Updated)

TikTok and WeChat may have had reprieves from US bans, at least temporarily.

Published onSeptember 20, 2020

Tiktok stock photo on smartphone
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • The US has banned TikTok and WeChat from US app stores.
  • TikTok later reached a deal with Oracle and Walmart.
  • A judge has temporarily blocked the US WeChat ban

Update: September 20 11:31am ET: 

TikTok announced a deal on Saturday between Oracle and Walmart, with US President Donald Trump expressing his approval of the deal. Trump told reporters his “blessing” has been given to the partnership. The US Commerce Department said the deadline for a possible TikTok ban is now September 27, in “light of recent positive developments.”

The WeChat ban has also been avoided in the short-term, reported Reuters. In response to a court challenge by plaintiffs including US-based WeChat users, US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler issued a 22-page preliminary injunction to block the executive order that banned WeChat downloads in the US.

“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote in consideration of First Amendment rights.

Beeler, sitting in San Francisco, wrote that “while the general evidence about the threat to national security-related to China is considerable, the specific evidence about WeChat is modest”.

The US Commerce Department had not commented at the time of writing.

Original story: The US government said it would ban TikTok by September 15 if a deal wasn’t reached by then. The rising video platform then announced a partnership with Oracle, pending US approval. Unfortunately, it looks like that wasn’t enough to save it from sanctions.

The US Department of Commerce has announced that both TikTok and messaging app WeChat are barred from US app stores such as the Play Store and Apple App Store as of September 20. Furthermore, the WeChat app is also barred from conducting transactions in the US as of this date.

As of September 20 for WeChat and November 12 for TikTok, both are prohibited from using US hosting services, content delivery network services, and peering services for their apps as well.

The Department of Commerce claimed that this move was conducted in the name of national security:

While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar. Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories. Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP.  This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security.

The department also notes that President Donald Trump has given TikTok until November 12 to resolve the apparent national security concerns. It adds that if the concerns are resolved, then this order “may be lifted.”

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