By Katy Stech Ferek 

The Trump administration said Friday that it will ban downloads of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok and the U.S. use of China's popular messaging and electronic payment app WeChat after Sunday night over national security and data privacy concerns.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Fox Business Network that his office will order a full ban for TikTok by Nov. 12 but noted that discussions for a deal that would incorporate data safeguards could enable U.S. users continued access of TikTok.

As of Sunday, TikTok users in the U.S. will be blocked from maintenance and upgrades, according to a Commerce Department release.

A TikTok spokeswoman and WeChat owner Tencent Holdings Ltd. didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on the new rules.

Commerce officials said the Chinese-owned apps pose similar threats to Americans.

"Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories," the Commerce Department said. "Each is an active participant in China's civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP."

Mr. Ross said he made the decision after President Trump ordered his department to review WeChat for national security concerns last month.

"China has been taking all kinds of data... that's what we're trying to squelch," he said.

As of Sunday, Commerce said it will block "any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S." It will also block any money transfers through the WeChat app.

On Thursday, a federal judge heard arguments from WeChat users who sued to block the ban but didn't immediately issue a ruling.

Write to Katy Stech Ferek at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 18, 2020 09:04 ET (13:04 GMT)

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