WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders prohibiting U.S. residents from doing any business with TikTok, WeChat or the apps’ Chinese owners beginning 45 days from now, citing the national security risk of leaving American’s personal data exposed.
The move coincided with Trump’s push for the sale of TikTok, the popular video app owned by ByteDance Ltd., to an American company, and it came a day after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged U.S. businesses to remove Chinese apps from their stores. The measure threatens penalties on any U.S. resident or company that engages in any transactions with TikTok, WeChat or their owners after the order takes effect.
“This mobile application may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party,” Trump said in the order, released Thursday by the White House. Data collection via TikTok “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
TikTok and WeChat representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment.
WeChat is the messaging software developed by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. that has evolved into an all-purpose app that allows people to use it for payments, e-commerce and more. It is one of the most popular apps, with a billion-plus users.