• The London Financial

TikTok & WeChat: US downloads to be banned from this Sunday

By The London Financial, News Team

Last month, President Donald Trump issued two executive orders for the removal of the Chinese social media platforms Tik Tok and WeChat from the Google and Apple app stores.

This move is an example of the tougher stance that Donald Trump has taken against the Chinese state in the last few months. The US secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, stated that this move was taken in order to “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of US laws and regulations.”

Experts say that these apps present a security risk to the US by allowing the Chinese state to collect data from millions of American citizens, even though the Chinese companies have denied this.

The Commerce Department has acknowledged that the threats TikTok and WeChat pose are not identical but they collected "vast swathes of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories".

Even though the apps are mainly used by teenagers, James Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues that “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.”

According to Bloomberg, ByteDance is confident that it will pass regulations from Beijing.

When asked if the US expects a retaliatory move from the Chinese government, President Trump replied: “Well, that’s up to them.”. Last month he stated that TikTok posed a security threat because it was “allowing China to track the locations of federal employees . . . build dossiers of personal information for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage”.

Yik Chan Chi, a researcher in communications policy and global media at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, considers that “The most worrying part for the Chinese government has been the algorithm, which is the most valuable asset for TikTok,”.

Evan Medeiros, a professor from Georgetown and former White House Asia Adviser to Barack Obama, stated that the government had “never articulated the national security rationale for banning TikTok” and that even though there are existing concerns over the tech industry and China, US officials are “letting their anxiety and attitude get the best of them”.