Apple and Google must have removed TikTok and chat service WeChat from their US download stores effective Monday. This is stated in a statement from the Ministry of Commerce. The deadline is midnight on the night from Sunday to Monday (American time).
It will be prohibited to make the apps available through download stores. Anyone who has downloaded TikTok before then can continue to use the app for the time being. All this has no consequences for Dutch users, because the order specifically concerns the download shops in the US.
In a statement TikTok says it disagrees with the ministry’s decision. The company also says it continues to fight against the decision. TikTok sued the Trump administration over the case late last month.
TikTok’s US interim boss has asked rivals Instagram and Facebook via Twitter to support the video app:
According to the US government, the apps pose a threat to US user data. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has always contradicted it handing over data from Americans to the Chinese government. The New York Times recently outlined how WeChat is being used by China to track its citizens.
TikTok does not go completely black yet. The statement says there is room until November 12 to address security concerns. “If that happens, the ban will be withdrawn.”
After that, there could be a complete ban. If that happens, Dutch users will no longer be able to see videos from American TikTokkers.
For WeChat, the consequences are greater for now than for TikTok. Not only does the chat app have to disappear from the American download stores before Monday, but also network restrictions will be imposed. This can cause malfunctions, reports a CNN journalist after a briefing from the ministry. So the question is how useful the app is then.
Weeks of negotiations
The future of TikTok has been under negotiation for weeks. The app, in which users share dances and other acts in short videos, has become increasingly popular in recent times. The app has more than 100 million users in both the US and Europe. It is the first Chinese-made social media app with great success in the West.
President Trump was expected to make a decision today on a deal between TikTok’s parent company ByteDance and the American software company Oracle. That can still happen. So it cannot be ruled out that this order is part of the bargaining game, for example to get more out of it at the last minute.