The U.S. will bar people from downloading both TikTok and WeChat starting September 20th. Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous, Brian Sozzi, and Akiko Fujita break down the latest details.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: We begin this morning with breaking news on the Oracle TikTok deal. The US will bar people from downloading both Chinese owned TikTok and WeChat starting September 20. Now this move includes preventing the Apple App Store, Google Play, and other platforms from offering these apps on their platforms.
Yahoo Finance's Akiko Fujita joins us now. Good morning, Akiko. Look, today was the day President Trump was supposed to say whether or not the government would approve of Oracle taking a stake in TikTok. Does this mean that deal won't happen now?
AKIKO FUJITA: No, the deal is not shut yet. And I think that's a key thing-- a key point to get across here. Let's talk about that Commerce Department statement today, though.
September 20 was kind of always the deadline that was set for by the president in those dual executive orders that were signed at the beginning of last month, and the Commerce Department putting out a statement today saying that the president really intends to move forward with these bans, unless there is a way to mitigate those concerns, the data collection concerns, which is why the door is not completely closed yet on some kind of deal being made at the last minute.
The department putting out a statement this morning, saying as of September 20, any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile apps will be prohibited. As it relates to WeChat, the department also saying WeChat users will be prohibited from the transferring of funds and payments through the app.
Let me tell you about this statement that came out from Secretary Wilbur Ross, saying, "Today's actions prove once again that the president will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party.
At the president's direction, we have taken significant action to combat China's malicious collection of American citizens' personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of US laws and regulations."
Now, as part of this order, to your point, Alexis, all US app stores are required to remove TikTok from their downloads, which would certainly be a hit to Google and Apple. For the 100 million users of TikTok in the US, this doesn't mean they will be forced to remove the app as of September 20. But they will not have access to the software updates, as well as the new features that come out after the deadline.
All of this, of course, comes on the heels of dizzying headlines that have come out over the last several days, this back and forth between Oracle and its partner Walmart, and then ByteDance, dance which is TikTok's parent company. The most recent reports suggest Oracle would only have a 20% stake in some kind of new deal in TikTok, the president making clear today that at least this just wasn't enough.
Now one significant thing to note in that statement that came out this morning are the deadlines, or the dates, that have been set forward here for a complete ban of these apps. For WeChat, it's September 20th. For TikTok, it's November 12th, which will put the date right after the presidential election.
So that's something to watch for here, the president very mindful, of course, that there is an election looming here. He's made it part of his platform to be tough on China. And one other thing to note, I think you certainly want to be watching for any kind of reaction coming out of Beijing, because if this does go through, there may be some retaliation on American tech companies.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: But Akiko, isn't this an aggressive move by the Trump administration to push for its original intent, which was for TikTok to be fully owned by a US company?
AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, and you've seen the president get some significant pushback, not just internally among senior administration officials, but among Republican and Democratic senators as well. We've seen the likes of Marco Rubio, as well as Josh Hawley, coming out with statements to the point you just made, which is this is not exactly what you mentioned in that executive order when it came out in August.
It was about addressing data collection concerns, national security concerns, as the president saw it. And that can not be addressed. Anything short of a divestiture is simply not enough. So when you look at the headlines that have come out over the last few days, if in fact that is where the deal stands, a minority stake by an American company.
And ByteDance would be a significant step back, a concession, some may argue, on the US side. So the president seeing that pushback going through the Commerce Department today, making it very clear that at least he wants to show publicly that I'm not stepping back here. We're holding our ground until September 20, unless there's some kind of last minute deal that can come through.