The Trump administration said Friday it would bar the Chinese-owned mobile apps WeChat and TikTok from U.S. app stores as of midnight Sunday, a significant escalation in America’s tech fight with China that takes aim at two popular services used by more than 100 million people in the United States.
In a series of moves designed to render WeChat essentially useless within the United States, the government will also ban American companies from processing transactions for WeChat or hosting its internet traffic.
Similar restrictions will also go into effect for TikTok on Nov. 12 unless the company can assuage the administration’s concerns that the popular social media app poses a threat to U.S. national security. TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, is currently in talks with Oracle about a deal that could transfer some control to the American software maker. The Commerce Department said the prohibitions could be lifted if TikTok resolves the administration’s national security concerns by the November deadline.
The actions follow an Aug. 6 executive order in which President Trump argued that TikTok and WeChat collect data from American users that could be retrieved by the Chinese government. The administration has threatened fines of up to $1 million and up to 20 years in prison for violations of the order.