TRUMP SIGNS ORDER, Banning ByteDance & WeChat!


Trump signs order

Washington takes a drastic approach as Trump signs order banning the U.S. transactions with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. In the same vein, the U.S. president in addition to the ByteDance ban announced that he equally signed a similar order aimed at banning transactions with the Chinese messaging app WeChat strongly tied to China. Although, WeChat has a fewer presence in the United States than the subject hot brand – TikTok, but used mainly by the Chinese diaspora.

It’s interesting to note here that the U.S. president had earlier told the press he will use executive order to ban TikTok which saw a twist lately based on Microsoft interest in acquiring a stake. Trump made it clear, a 30% stake of TikTok for the OS giant wouldn’t be helpful for such a hot brand in the United States. While in a report, a Tencent spokesperson claimed the company is currently reviewing the executive order in a bid to get better understanding.

At the moment, the executive orders aimed at both companies will take effect in 42 days, though the orders seem to be confusing since the Secretary of Commerce ‘Wilbur Ross’ is yet to identify what transactions are covered until the ban takes full effect. Should Tencent’s other holdings be affected! It isn’t clear how the executive orders will impact on the apps’ operation in the United States.

The latest development as Trump signs order aimed at Chinese tech is equally not viewed as a direct phrase to ban both apps but could be a means to restrict them. Trump administration did announce days ago its intent to purge “untrusted” Chinese tech services, which under the Clean Network program could potentially include TikTok and WeChat respectively.  ByteDance’s TikTok in its response to the latest development made it clear that the executive order was “issued without any due process” and would risk “undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law”.

TikTok in a bid to strengthen its platform, recently updated its policies to ban the use of “deepfakes” also known as manipulated content, and in the same vein, broaden its fact-checking partnership ahead of the U.S. elections, and in addition, flag election misinformation. This TikTok claim is to better clarify what’s allowed and not allowed on TikTok. It’s understood, the 2020 U.S. election is a huge concern, and as such, TikTok said it’s expanding its relationships with Lead Stories and PolitiFact to fact-check likely misinformation related to the 2020 United States election.

It’s also evident to note that the subject Chinese video sharing app recently found itself in the midst of political power struggle which threatens to put hard limits on its global expansion this year, and to find a common grand for its app ecosystem, TikTok has announced it will build its first data center in Europe despite last month ruling by Europe’s top court over international data transfers and data processing outside the bloc.

TikTok also made it clear that the forthcoming data center in Europe will be located in Ireland, designed to store European users’ data once it’s up and running (which should be expected by early 2022). Based on this development, global CISO ‘Roland Cloutier’ stated in a blog post that:

“This investment in Ireland… will create hundreds of new jobs and play a key role in further strengthening the safeguarding and protection of TikTok user data, with a state of the art physical and network security defense system planned around this new operation”.  

Meanwhile, Trump’s executive order on Tencent’s WeChat shouldn’t be a surprise based on the fact that ‘Mike Pompeo’s’ had earlier named the messaging app at the time he spoke of Trump’s action that could be implemented “shortly” but an order less expected. Trump also claimed WeChat’s data collected poses a national security threat and could give the Chinese Communist Party access to user information.

Meanwhile, it’s evident, the scope of this order could be stretched beyond WeChat, and in the process restrict U.S. companies from conducting transactions with subsidiaries of Tencent holding. While in another dimension, the big question which seems mysterious is how the Secretary of Commerce will define “transaction” in 42 days. However, the latest ban on Tencent could practically deal a blow to some of the biggest entertainment and tech companies backed by Tencent in the U.S.

What’s your take as Trump sign order to ban these Chinese apps?