Tiktok will be removed from us app stores from sundayas washington implements executive orders from president donald trump that also target wechat, a chinese social media app.
The us commerce department, which announced the move on friday, stopped short of forcing apple and google to remove the chinese versions of tiktok and wechat from their app stores in china.
Wilbur ross, the us commerce secretary, said: we have taken significant action to combat chinas malicious collection of american citizens personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of us laws and regulations.
The imminent removals come as oracle and bytedance, the owner of tiktok, continue talks with the trump administration over how to resolve its concerns over the video app. any deal will also have to be approved by beijing.
Oracle and bytedance have submitted a proposal that would involve tiktoks global business being spun out into a separate us company, with an all-american board and a security committee headed by a person with us government security clearances. the new company would initially be majority owned by bytedance, but would look to list publicly in the us.
Mr trump has raised concerns about the continuing chinese ownership of the app, while marco rubio, an influential republican senator, and other lawmakers have complained that the deal would allow bytedance to retain control of the algorithm that selects which videos to show to each user.
The removal of tiktok and wechat from us app stores implements two executive orders issued last month by mr trump, which said us companies would be barred from dealing with the apps from september 20. the president later issued a third order that gave bytedance until november 12 to divest its interests in tiktok in the us.
Speaking on fox business, mr ross said wechat would effectively be shut down immediately in the us. he said existing tiktok users in the country would suffer a gradual degradation of service, but could use the app until november 12.
Tiktok would be shut down on that date in the event that bytedance had not come up with a solution that satisfied the us government.
Asked whether he believed that china would retaliate against the moves, he said: well, thats up to them.
Feng chucheng, an analyst at plenum, a china-based risk consultancy, said beijing would be unlikely to take a dramatic response at this point, because the us move was limited.
China will not take any substantial move, but will take a symbolic stance to criticise the us for its unilateral move against chinese tech firms, he said.
The battle over tiktok is the latest example of the much tougher stance mr trump has taken against china in recent months. some critics question why he is targeting an app such as tiktok that is largely used by teenagers, but experts said that the data the app gathers on its users threatened us security.
Big data is the core of intelligence now, said james lewis, a cyber expert at the center for strategic and international studies. this is the most intense espionage campaign against the us since the reagan administration. we are engaged in an intense espionage contest a spy war with china.
Mr trump last month said tiktok posed a security threat by potentially allowing china to track the locations of federal employees...build dossiers of personal information for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage.
But evan medeiros, a georgetown professor who was white house asia adviser to barack obama, said the administration had never articulated the national security rationale for banning tiktok.
They simply say that the potential to collect americans data is a national security risk but provide no evidence, he added.
He said there were multiple and legitimate concerns about tech trade with china but that us officials were letting their anxiety and attitude get the best of them.
Additional reporting by yuan yang in beijing
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