Want to avoid the TikTok ban? Download the app before Sunday
If you’re in the U.S. and want access to the popular social media app TikTok, act fast. The Trump Administration is banning new downloads on Sunday.
The U.S. Department of Commerce issued an order Friday to prevent Google and Apple from offering TikTok and WeChat on their platforms starting Sunday. The Department cited security concerns as the reason. Namely, the administration believes user data from TikTok is being sent to the Chinese Communist Party.
Does that mean TikTok & WeChat will disappear from your phone Sunday if you’re in the U.S? Not quite. Let’s take a look at what’s happening right now.
Data mining from China
The concern comes from TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The Trump Administration believes ByteDance is gathering data on Americans to cyberspy on the U.S., which could lead to election tampering.
On August 6, Donald Trump signed two executive orders giving TikTok 45 days to sell most of their shares to a U.S. company and devise a plan to keep U.S. users’ data secure from CCP cyberspying. Sunday is the deadline for those executive orders.
“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,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said about the order.
Can they do that?
The American Civil Liberties Union calls the Trump Administration’s TikTok ban an “abuse of emergency powers under the pretense of national security.” It’s unclear at this point what the ACLU intends to do about the block, although they claim to have sued the Trump Administration over 400 times regarding civil liberties issues, including immigration.
The Trump Administration maintains they’re protecting Americans from CCP cyberspying & data mining. The Trump Administration cited the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) as giving them the authority to ban the app to protect Americans from foreign threats.
The ACLU argues that the ban is selective, and “Trump’s executive orders are vague and don’t explain the “emergency” purportedly at issue.”
Spy vs. Spy
TikTok has denied it ever shared user data with the CCP and said it wouldn’t do so even if asked. Conversely, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has concerns that the U.S. takeover of TikTok will make China vulnerable to U.S. cyberspying.
Per Reuters, the ban on TikTok & WeChat is part of the Trump Administration’s efforts to ban “untrusted” Chinese apps from U.S. markets. It’s part of an escalation of tensions between the U.S. & China over trade, human rights, and technological superiority.
WeChat & Tencent
WeChat’s block will be a little more intensive than TikTok’s on Sunday. The block will slow down some of WeChat’s functions, possibly causing shutdowns. Per Reuters, the Trump Administration isn’t blocking WeChat’s infrastructure, which is used on some company’s apps, including Starbucks.
The administration also clarified that the block wouldn’t affect Tencent Games, so gamers who are in love with Fortnite & Activision Blizzard games can rest easy.
What about current users?
The TikTok block is supposed to be temporary, giving time for the corporation to finalize negotiations for a sale. Right now, TikTok is in negotiations with the U.S. tech giant Oracle. Trump may rescind the block if TikTok & Oracle finalize a deal that addresses U.S. security concerns.
However, the Trump Administration may ban the entire app on November 12 per a statement from Wilbur Ross on Fox Business. After this date, a ban on some transactions within the app will make it harder for Americans to use.
If you already have TikTok, you can keep it. The Trump Administration won’t be removing the app from your personal phone. However, the app won’t be able to receive software updates.
Alternatively, there would be nothing stopping U.S. citizens from obtaining the app from a VPN or another country. The administration maintains that it isn’t going after individual users, rather, “We are aiming at a top corporate level. We’re not going to go out after the individual users,” one official clarified.