After a long saga involving a potential buyout from Microsoft and then an official bid from Oracle, it looks like Tiktok, along with WeChat, will get booted from all app stores. The U.S. Department of Commerce issued an order banning both from app stores starting September 20, with a total ban to follow later.
President Trump has made it clear that he considers both TikTok and WeChat a threat to national security and promised to ban the two previously. TikTok looked like it might get a reprieve as Microsoft pursued a total buyout of the company, and the President held off on his ban for that process to play out.
But ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, turned down the Microsoft office and accepted a joint-bid from Oracle and Walmart instead. Under those terms, ByteDance retained ownership, and Oracle got a 20% stake. That apparently wasn’t enough for the administration, as the U.S. Department of Commerce followed through with its order. You can read the full order at the Commerce Department’s site, but the important bits are as follows:
As of September 20, 2020, the following transactions are prohibited:
- 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.;
- Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.
As of September 20, 2020, for WeChat and as of November 12, 2020, for TikTok, the following transactions are prohibited:
- Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
- Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
- Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the U.S.;
- Any utilization of the mobile application’s constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the U.S.
Parsing through the legal-speak, we can see after Sunday, September 20, you won’t be able to download TikTok or WeChat from app stores anymore, but if you already have the apps they should continue to work. You also won’t be able to make payments or purchases in the WeChat anymore, but TikTok in-app-purchases should still work.
After November 12, additional measures go into place that would prevent the two apps from working at all, and along with purchases through the TikTok app. Effectively, if nothing changes between now and then, the two apps will be totally banned. Naturally, the order only applies inside the U.S. Nothing changes if you’re outside the States.
It’s also worth noting that a lot can change between now and November 12. Lawsuits are already underway concerning the WeChat ban, and according to Android Central, Judge Laurel Beeler has indicated she may be sympathetic to the argument that the President’s executive order is too vague. She held off on issuing a final order, though, and we’re awaiting a final decision.
TikTok may also try to negotiate to find buyout terms that the administration finds acceptable. And November 12 is after the next Presidential election, which could change everything.
We’ll keep you updated as new information comes to light.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce