TikTok could be banned on September 20 in the US after President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order on August 6 prohibiting Chinese tech giants Bytedance and Tencent from doing business in the country.
TikTok could be forced to close down operations in the U.S. in just 45 days, unless parent company Bytedance manages to sell its American arm.
A new executive order handed down by President Donald Trump has banned any transactions with Bytedance, the owners of TikTok, starting on September 20. It comes after he threatened to ban TikTok earlier this week over national security concerns.
“TikTok 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,” the order reads.
Trump’s action on TikTok is not the first country taking steps to ban the Chinese-owned app from operating in certain countries. India banned the app earlier in July, while other nations have also been considering the move.
The executive order will stop TikTok’s owners, Bytedance, from doing “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” This includes in-app purchases, as well as downloading programs as a whole.
Bytedance is currently in the process of selling TikTok’s U.S. operations. Microsoft are the front-runners to purchase the app, which has over 100 million users in the States alone. The sale is expected to go through by September 15.
Tencent ban could have huge impacts on gaming industry
Trump also signed a second executive order on August 6 prohibiting Tencent from doing business in the States as well.
Tencent has numerous stakes across the gaming industry. They are 100% owners of Riot Games, makers of League of Legends and Valorant, as well as majority owners of mobile gaming giant Supercell.
They have minority shares in almost every major gaming company — from Ubisoft (5%) to Epic Games (40%), Bluehole (PUBG Corp, 11.5%) to Blizzard (5%), and dozens of others.
The wording of the executive order does leave out the majority of Tencent businesses, only specifically referring to popular messaging service WeChat. However, it’s unclear specifically how the action could affect the gaming industry as a whole.
If the blanket ban does apply to developers like Riot and Blizzard, Tencent will need to offload their U.S. operations before September 20. If they do not, storefronts like the Blizzard store, the Epic Games Launcher, or Riot’s in-game shops across its four titles could be forced to close.
The executive order will come into effect on September 20, unless challenged by Bytedance or Tencent earlier.
August 6 Update (8:30pm PT): According to a report by LA Times’ Sam Dean, video game companies owned by Tencent will not be affected by the executive order.
Video game companies owned by Tencent will NOT be affected by this executive order!
White House official confirmed to the LA Times that the EO only blocks transactions related to WeChat
So Riot Games (League of Legends), Epic Games (Fortnite), et al are safe
— Sam Dean ? (@SamAugustDean) August 7, 2020
This means Riot Games, Epic Games, and more developers will be able to continue operating in the U.S. regardless of the order. WeChat is the only app being targeted.