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Deadline to Download TikTok or WeChat in U.S.? Trump, Commerce Department Say Sunday

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On Friday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced prohibitions on downloads of WeChat and TikTok to "safeguard the national security of the United States," according to a press release.

This follows President Donald Trump's executive order on August 6, 2020, that said the apps would be banned within 45 days if the U.S. portions of their businesses were not sold to U.S. companies. WeChat is owned by Tencent and TikTok is owned by ByteDance.

Trump is expected to make a statement on Friday on whether the U.S. government will rubber-stamp Oracle taking a minority stake in TikTok and becoming a "trusted technology partner." 

In the U.S. Department of Commerce's press release, Secretary Wilbur Ross said, “Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party."

"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," he added.

The U.S. Department of Commerce alleges that WeChat and TikTok collect data from their users which includes "network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories," creating "unacceptable risks to our national security" because they are subject to mandatory cooperation with China's government and intelligence forces.

On Sunday, U.S. users will no longer be able to distribute or maintain WeChat or TikTok apps. 

TikTok sent TheStreet the following statement:

"We disagree with the decision from the Commerce Department, and are disappointed that it stands to block new app downloads from Sunday and ban use of the TikTok app in the US from November 12. Our community of 100 million US users love TikTok because it's a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection, and we’re committed to protecting their privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.

In our proposal to the US Administration, we've already committed to unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do, including third-party audits, verification of code security, and US government oversight of US data security. Further, an American technology provider would be responsible for maintaining and operating the TikTok network in the US, which would include all services and data serving US consumers. We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods."

Responding to the news on Twitter, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said, "I’ve said this before, but a US TikTok ban would be quite bad for Instagram, Facebook, and the internet more broadly."

TikTok's Interim CEO, Vanessa Pappas, responded to Mosseri's tweet.

"We agree that this type of ban would be bad for the industry. We invite Facebook and Instagram to publicly join our challenge and support our litigation," Pappas tweeted. "This is a moment to put aside our competition and focus on core principles like freedom of expression and due process of law."

Oracle  (ORCL) - Get Oracle Corporation Report shares are marked 0.6% lower following the Commerce Department statement.

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