With just two weeks to go before he leaves office, President Trump has issued an executive order banning transactions with a handful of Chinese apps. Set to kick in Friday, February 19th, the order will ban Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office from US app stores.
The order bans “transactions” with these apps by any person in the US, which would effectively ban them from both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store when it goes into effect.
According to the order’s text, the apps in question have been targeted for their potential ability to gather possibly sensitive or private data from users, which could include federal employees or contractors.
“The United States has assessed that a number of Chinese connected software applications automatically capture vast swaths of information from millions of users in the United States, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information, which would allow the PRC and CCP access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
The outgoing US administration has been openly pursuing bans of “untrusted” Chinese apps for the last several months, targeting TikTok and WeChat, as examples, though both have avoided a ban. Drone-maker DJI was also added to the US’s so-called Entity List (joining Huawei), banning both their import and the sale of US hardware or materials to the company.