By Gary Chapman
On Thursday, August 6th, President Trump signed two executive orders banning transactions between the US and Bytedance, who are the owners of TikTok, and Tencent, a multinational conglomerate who owns the popular WeChat app.
The executive order cites concern over the apps collecting data that “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information…. And [the] 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.” the executive order cites censoring Chinese issues like Tiananmen Square and treatment of Muslims
The executive order will block “transactions” between U.S. citizens and requires the two companies to sell to a US company like Microsoft, who had shown interest in purchasing TikTok. When it comes to Tencent, its assets might be a little more extravagant.
Tencent has a hold in a lot of tech things, including owning Riot Games, which makes the highly popular MMOs (massively multiplayer online games) “League of Legends” and “Valorant” and owning 40% of Epic Games, who make “Fortnite” and “Rocket League” to an extent, buying the developer Psyonix in 2019. Tencent also has a small stake in Activision Blizzard who owns “Overwatch” and “World of Warcraft”.
Whoever is going to buy those assets better have the cash for it. Tencent also has a hand in making Hollywood blockbusters with them producing “Kong: Skull Island”, “Venom” and the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick”.
Tiktok is not taking the executive order sitting down, however, as they issued a statement on the 7th of August.
The statement asserts that the White House did not follow due process, stating that “For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed” and that “The text of the decision makes it plain that there has been a reliance on unnamed “reports” with no citations, fears that the app “may be” used for misinformation campaigns with no substantiation of such fears, and concerns about the collection of data that is industry standard for thousands of mobile apps around the world. “
Tech YouTuber/Commentator Mutahar Anas stated his thoughts on the subject saying that, “…I would have banned this on government cell phones….” but in regards to the average citizen, he said that we should have the freedom to install whatever we want, citing that data collection will happen anyway.
The question is what precedent will be set for this action, and the answer is I do not know.