Trump Bans Eight Chinese Apps over Privacy Concerns

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese apps: Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office.

The order cites threats to users’ personal data and notes that the apps could allow the Chinese government to “track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce will have 45 days to define which transactions will be banned under the directive, meaning it will not take effect until 30 days after President-elect Biden takes office. The new administration could revoke the order, Reuters reports, but has not indicated whether it will.

Last August, the White House issued a similar executive order that blocks some transactions with the Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat—although those orders were temporarily blocked by the courts for further evaluation. A CFUIS review found that TikTok, a video sharing app, could compromise the personal information of its 175 million U.S. users.

Citing an unnamed source, Axios reports that the White House considered including TikTok in the latest order despite the court injunctions, but ultimately did not.

The order states that the U.S. must take “aggressive action” against Chinese app developers to protect national security”By accessing personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, Chinese connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information.” “I stand with President Trump’s commitment to protecting the privacy and security of Americans from threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “The Department of Commerce will leverage the authorities of  the E.O. to continue our mission to secure the nation, the economy, and the people of the United States.”