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TikTok, WeChat to be banned from US app stores starting Sunday

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Chesnot/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Starting Sunday, downloads of the massively popular video app TikTok and the messaging app WeChat will be banned in the United States, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Friday morning.

The department said in a statement that the move was necessary to “safeguard the national security of the United States.”

President Donald Trump issued twin executive orders in August, saying the apps would shut down by September 20 if they were not sold to U.S. owners. The administration claimed the Chinese Communist Party was using data collected through these apps to “threaten the national security, foreign policy and the economy of the U.S.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview on Fox Business News Friday morning that these new rules announced this morning were in connection with the executive orders issued in August and are “separate” from the ongoing negotiations between TikTok and tentative U.S. buyers, including Oracle and Walmart.

Ross said that “for all practical purposes” WeChat will be shut down in the U.S. as of midnight Monday with the new Commerce Department ruling.

“TikTok is more complicated,” Ross added, saying that essentially a deadline for a deal with a U.S. buyer has been extended until November 12. In the meantime, updates will be barred in the app.

TikTok has an estimated 65 million to 80 million users in the U.S. WeChat, meanwhile, has some 19 million users in the U.S. — a majority of them people of Chinese descent who use the app to connect with love ones or conduct business in China.

A TikTok spokesperson told ABC News in a statement that they disagree and are disappointed with the Commerce Department’s decision. The company vowed to continue its challenge against the “unjust executive order.”

Spokespeople for Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, did not immediately respond to request for comment. ABC News has also reached out to Google and Apple for comment.

By William Mansell & Catherine Thorbecke
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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