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How US thinks China uses TikTok, WeChat against Americans

ByteDance and Microsoft were exploring a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets

twitter-logoNidhi Singal | August 7, 2020 | Updated 13:15 IST
How US thinks China uses TikTok, WeChat against Americans
Data collection via TikTok and WeChat threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information

In two separate Executive Orders signed by the US President Donald Trump, Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat will be prohibited from operating in the US in 45 days since the order issue date. The order would prohibit any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd and Tencent Holdings, for TikTok and WeChat, respectively.

The executive order said the two apps, developed and owned by companies in China, threatens the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and additional steps must be taken to deal with the national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and services supply chain.

Also read: Donald Trump signs executive orders banning Tiktok, WeChat over security concerns

The order alleges that video sharing platform TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories. This data collection 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.

On August 2, 2020, Microsoft issued a statement on the company continuing discussions on potential purchase of TikTok in the United States. ByteDance and Microsoft were exploring a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets. However, recent developments suggest Microsoft is considering taking over TikTok's entire global business. This includes TikTok's India operations, which was banned by the government of India along with 58 more Chinese apps on June 29, 2020

The order also alleges that WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information. In addition, the application captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States, thereby allowing the Chinese Communist Party a mechanism for keeping tabs on Chinese citizens who may be enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives.

Also read: TikTok might return to India if Microsoft buys global business of video sharing app

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