Sanctions Imposed Against WeChat & TikTok by US Department of Commerce

Transactional sanctions are being imposed on WeChat & TikTok. These apps have been stripped down from the Google App Store and iOS App Store.

Sanctions Imposed Against WeChat & TikTok by US Department of Commerce
Image Credits: US Department of Commerce

The US Department of Commerce on Friday imposed transactional sanctions on Chinese mobile apps WeChat and TikTok. This following order is the enforcement of President Donald Trump’s executive orders issued in August. Both WeChat and TikTok are owned by Chinese companies that the US government claims are national security risks because they are ruled by the Chinese Communist Party.

This sanction effectively bans WeChat and TikTok from the Android Play Store and iOS App Store and any financial transactions facilitated through US payment processors.

Beginning Sept. 20, The following transactions will be prohibited, according to Commerce:

  • Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S.
  • Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.

Additional prohibitions for WeChat (Sept. 20) and TikTok (Nov. 12), will take effect according to Commerce:

  • Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.
  • Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.
  • Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the U.S.
  • Any utilization of the mobile application’s constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the U.S.

“While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar,” the order reads. “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.”

Earlier this week, the U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) sent formal letters to any companies having ties with Tencent Holdings which includes major video games titles such as League of Legends, Valorant, Fortnite, Rocket League etc. In the letter, CFIUs asked them to provide data on security protocols related to data security. Tencent Holdings has investments ranging from minority to majority in many major video games publishing companies.

News Source: The Esports Observer