The ban on TikTok and WeChat in the U.S., even if it takes place, it will be possible to bypass, experts say. At the same time, users are likely to start obstruction, excluding services from application stores owned by U.S. corporations, or limiting downloads from other sources.
On August 6, U.S. President Donald Trump signed two decrees to combat threats allegedly coming from the short video service TikTok and messenger WeChat, owned by Chinese ByteDance and Tencent, respectively.
Either the Chinese will sell their services to Americans within a month and a half, or their applications will be blocked.
– Like TikTok, WeChat collects huge amounts of information from its users. This could give the Chinese Communist Party access to personal and confidential information about the Americans. In addition, the applications collect personal and proprietary information about Chinese citizens visiting the United States, thereby allowing the Chinese Communist Party to track them,” the decree said.
Blocking WeChat will hit the Chinese living in or coming to the United States first.
Chinese citizens use WeChat as a platform for communication, making electronic payments, calling a taxi, online shopping and so on. Most Western multimedia sharing applications such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are banned in China, so users in the U.S. use WeChat.
Recent decisions suggest that the trade war with China is gaining momentum and reaching a new level. The U.S. no longer has enough additional trade duties and restrictions, now they are looking towards the IT sphere.
The accusation that TikTok is collecting data is tricky because all popular applications, including American Facebook and Instagram, do the same, Stanislav Kosarev says. The U.S. actions can only be justified by the fact that China behaves categorically towards foreign services: it does not allow them to enter the market, blocks and imposes restrictions. The White House has taken mirror measures with its decision.
It is impossible to completely block TikTok and WeChat, because there is a VPN. It is also not worth to completely exclude the possibility of blocking services (for example, by excluding applications belonging to American corporations from the shops), says Vadim Konyushkevich, managing partner of the law firm VK Partners. Especially on the condition that Microsoft will not be able to agree on the full or partial acquisition of TikTok.
Authorities can monitor the execution of the decrees through the owners of operating systems and mobile windows – Google, Apple and Microsoft, warns Pavel Katkov. Users may be forbidden to provide the opportunity to download or use the distribution of services downloaded from another source.
It is quite possible that fines will be imposed on users and Internet giants as well.