Over the last few months, I like many others have turned to TikTok and other applications to pass the time. With COVID-19 still ravaging The United States, many are growing tired of quarantine precautions; this unrest has led to many to question the effectiveness of the political government. Rather than unifying the country during a pandemic, tension seems to be at an all-time high on the verge of a breaking point. Throughout the summer, many have feared that the US Government would ban TikTok after Trump publicly spoke against the app. So what does the executive order say and when does it go into effect?
Earlier today, the US Senate unanimously voted to ban TikTok on all Government devices. Less than 24 hours later, Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning TikTok and other Chinese owned applications in 45 days. According to this executive order, ByteDance has until September 15th, 2020 to either sell its US operations to Microsoft or another US firm or face an outright ban. The Executive Order 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 ban not only affects TikTok but also WeChat, owned by Chinese corporation Tencent. The ban on WeChat could affect more than just mobile applications but the gaming industry as well. Prior to this ban, many US Citizens were currently unaware of how much Tencent owns. Tencent currently owns a variety of US-based companies including Riot Games, Funcom, and Sharkmob. Tencent also has partial ownership or ownership stake of many other gaming corporations. Some notable ones are: 80% of Grinding Gear Games, 84% of Supercell, 40% of Epic Games, and a 5% ownership stake of Activision Blizzard.
The Executive Orders
The Executive Order towards Tencent’s WeChat states that after 45 days, “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 1(c) of this order.”
The Executive Order targeted towards ByteDance’s TikTok states that after 45 days “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd. (a.k.a. Zìjié Tiàodòng), Beijing, China, or its subsidiaries, in which any such company has any interest, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 1(c) of this order.”
According to both orders, each application
“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. 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.”
This ban on TikTok and WeChat could cause unforeseen issues for gamers. With Tencent owning WeChat, the ban on any transactions with Tencent could result in some of the most popular video games being banned from America as well. This means that soon we might now have access to: Valorant, League of Legends, Path of Exile, Overwatch, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and much more. Do you think that Tencent and ByteDance will give in to Trump’s demands or will some within the US legal system fight back against the executive order? Now there are ways to work around a ban, such as a VPN but United States citizens will just have to wait and see.