The U.S. Commerce Department has issued an order that will bar people in the United States from downloading Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat and video-sharing app TikTok, starting Sunday reported CBC today.
The move will block Americans from downloading the Chinese-owned platforms over concerns they pose a national security threat.
Reuters reported that the bans, announced on Friday, affect only new downloads and updates, and are less sweeping than expected, particularly for TikTok, giving its parent group ByteDance some breathing space to clinch an agreement over the fate of its U.S. operations.
WeChat, an all-in-one messaging, social media and electronic payment app, faces more severe restrictions from Sunday. Existing TikTok users, on the other hand, will see little change until Nov. 12 when a ban on some technical transactions will kick in, which TikTok said would amount to an effective ban.
WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.
After India, TikTok has been most heavily downloaded in the US.
Technology experts say TikTok has access to users’ names, birth dates and location data. This raises concerns relating to facial recognition and who has access to this data. Other technology giants and app developers collect similar data as well, however, because of geopolitical dynamics, China has come under the spotlight.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not use TikTok, however, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh uses TikTok frequently to reach out to younger audiences, and has almost 390,000 followers on the platform, and a total of 2.2 million likes on his videos.
Shortly after the news from the U.S., Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that Canada was not going to ban the app. Conservative MP Rachael Harder, who is also the chair of the ethics committee, said in an interview that Canada needs to be taking a more proactive stance on apps like TikTok.
Not only Canadian social media users are worried if a TikTok ban hits Canada, but the social media followers from the US were also found tweeting if TikTok gets banned in the US, they want to move to Canada!