President Trump on Thursday ordered an unspecified ban on "transactions" with the Chinese owners of the consumer apps TikTok and WeChat. The twin executive orders—one for each app—take effect in 45 days on Sept. 20, and the BBC reports they refer to the apps as a "threat." The orders call on the Secretary of Commerce to define the banned transactions by that time. The AP reports the orders' wording is vague but leaves open the possibility that hosting the apps in the Apple and Google app stores could be covered by the ban. Trump had threatened a deadline of Sept. 15 to "close down" TikTok unless Microsoft or "somebody else" bought it from Chinese company ByteDance, which operates a separate version for the Chinese market. TikTok, Microsoft, and WeChat owner Tencent had no immediate replies to queries.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that he was expanding the US crackdown on Chinese technology to personal apps, citing alleged security threats and calling out TikTok by name. Analysts on Wednesday questioned the legal basis for a ban on apps. Trump’s order Thursday night cited legal authority from the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act. TikTok insists it does not store US user information in China and would not share it with the Chinese government. That apparently hasn't satisfied Trump. Axios has this line from his order: TikTok's "data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information—potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage." (Instagram just rolled out a TikTok rival.)