The U.S. Department of Commerce issued an order to block residents from downloading TikTok and WeChat, which could come into effect on September 20th.
The order, which was first covered by Reuters, attempts to ban downloads of TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps such as WeChat in the U.S.
“Any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd shall be prohibited to the extent permitted under applicable law,” the order reads.
The news comes after weeks of TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, engaging in discussions of a sale of the app’s U.S. operations to an American company. According to The Verge, ByteDance sought to create a new company called TikTok Global that would appease the Trump administration’s concerns over user data security.
Previously, Trump called for the shutdown of U.S. TikTok operations unless it was sold to an American company by September 15th. Microsoft was among those engaging in talks with TikTok, but later dropped out of the running. That left Oracle and Walmart as leading candidates. Rolling Stone reports that Trump threw his support behind the Oracle bid — Oracle’s owner, Larry Ellison, is a major Trump donor and the company’s CEO, Safra Catz, served on Trump’s transition team in 2016.
Despite the talks, no deal has met all of the Trump administration’s requirements.
Reuters reported that the ban would bar Apple and Google from offering TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps in their app stores for U.S. users. However, both companies could continue to offer TikTok to non-U.S. residents, which would leave Canadians unaffected by the move. Further, since the Commerce Department order appears to target new downloads, it remains unclear if people who already have the app installed will be able to keep using it.
Additionally, the order doesn’t bar U.S. companies from conducting business with Chinese-owned apps. The Verge points to WeChat as an example. Both Walmart and Starbucks allow people to use WeChat to make transactions.