The US Department of Commerce plans to restrict access to TikTok and WeChat on Sunday because the Trump administration’s executive orders against the two apps are set to take effect.
The Department said on Friday that as of Sunday, any moves to distribute or maintain WeChat or TikTok on an app store to be prohibited. Apple and Google didn’t immediately answer requests for comment.
The existing users who have already downloaded the apps will still be able to continue using the software, the restrictions mean updated versions of the apps can’t be downloaded.
“The only real change as of Sunday night would be [TikTok users] won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday morning on Fox Business.
The restrictions targeting WeChat are more extensive. Beginning Sunday, it’ll be illegal to host or transfer internet traffic related to WeChat, the Department told in a release. It will also be true for TikTok as of Nov. 12, it said.
(The Trump administration is currently weighing a proposal involving ByteDance, TikTok‘s Chinese parent, and Oracle, designed to resolve the administration’s national security concerns associated with TikTok; the deadline for a deal is Nov. 12.)
TikTok and Tencent, WeChat’s owner, didn’t immediately answer the requests for comment.
Further restrictions could still be announced later, including against other apps if they’re seen to be used as workarounds.
In earlier court filings, the United States government suggested that the restrictions on TikTok and WeChat would be limited in scope and not aimed at harming consumers or TikTok’s US employees.
However, the employees of TikTok will still be able to receive salaries and benefits and to do their day jobs without running afoul of the ban.
In a separate filing on Sept. 15, the United States government warned that communication over WeChat could be “impaired” due to forthcoming policies, but that “users won’t be targeted or subject to penalties.”
All these actions once again prove that the US President Donald Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party, said Ross.
The remarkable step has been taken to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, meanwhile promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations in compliance with the direction of the President, he added.