The US is about to ban TikTok. Here's what that means for users.

The US is about to ban TikTok. Here's what that means for users.
Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images; Clancy Morgan/Business Insider
  • The United States government said it will ban the wildly popular smartphone app TikTok from September 20.
  • The threat comes amid ongoing negotiations between TikTok's parent firm ByteDance to sell the app's US operations. President Trump has accused TikTok of being used to collect data on Americans for the Chinese government.
  • In an order published Friday morning, the US Department of Commerce gave TikTok until September 20 — this Sunday — before banning its ability to transact business in the US.
  • From Sunday this potentially means the app will no longer be able to be updated through either Apple or Google's digital storefronts.
  • The app may also outright stop functioning on November 12 as the US government will bar internet service providers from "enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the US."

Starting this Sunday, September 20, the wildly popular video app TikTok will no longer be available through Apple and Google's digital storefronts.

Moreover, if you've already got the app, future updates won't be allowed.

That's according to an order published by the US Department of Commerce on Friday morning which says that starting on September 20, 2020, TikTok will be barred from software updates and distribution in the US.

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For Apple and Google smartphone users in the US, that means TikTok could disappear from their respective app stores, and any updates to the app may not be processed. If you already have the app on your phone, however, it won't just disappear.

The order also bans companies in the US from "enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the US," from November 12, which would effectively stop existing users from continuing to use TikTok.


Whether any of this will happen remains to be seen.

The order follows the Trump adminstration's wider efforts to force a sale of TikTok's US business to a US firm in the name of national security.

President Trump has repeatedly insisted that TikTok, because it is owned and operated by a Chinese company, is collecting information from users in the US and feeding that information to the Chinese government.

ByteDance has reportedly negotiated some kind of deal over TikTok's US operations with US tech giant Oracle, which is awaiting the green light from the White House. If this deal is approved and confirmed by Sunday, it could obviate the order entirely, Reuters reported.

With over 100 million users in the US, TikTok has grown as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country in 2020.


Representatives for Apple and Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

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