Recently President Trump attempted to but failed to ban the popular apps Tik Tok and WeChat all because of a trade war that kicked off with China pre-COVID-19. The President’s administration wanted to forcibly remove the apps from Google Play and the App Store which would prevent any future downloads in America.
Both apps are Chinese owned and based and many Chinese- Americans use WeChat especially to communicate with family members overseas because it is one of the few messaging apps that is not banned by the Chinese government.
President Trump is describing the app as a possible security concern over Chinese networks having access to American information, but if this was based on economic policy or security concerns and not the trade war, wouldn’t other apps be banned as well?
Americans have access to international messaging apps such as Canadian owned Kik, South Korean owned Weverse, and Japanese owned Rakuten Viber. If security is the primary cause of the nation’s distress, Rakuten Viber should be the app that is prohibited as it has information to Americans through a cash back program to hundreds of stores that millions use daily.
Although Chinese and American citizens can use a money transfer option on WeChat, shouldn’t President Trump take into consideration the financial information of millions stored within a single app that is not U.S. based? Along with the feature in WeChat for money transfers, there are other foreign websites that allow users to buy items upfront and then pay later, like Afterpay based in Australia and Klarna from Sweden. Why ban an app from one country but not the others?
Information aside, the 1 billion monthly users of WeChat would have been cut off from family members and friends. During the time of this pandemic, not being able to contact loved ones can cause major anxiety. Imagine not being able to talk to your family during a pandemic because the company threatens security when many other apps do the same thing.
Fortunately, a California judge temporarily blocked the ban presenting it as a violation of citizen’s First Amendment rights. How can a President of a country that has no connection to the creators of the app block it if it is from another country? Is it really a safety measure, or is it from a trade war that America is losing?