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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Commerce Department issued Friday an order blocking new downloads of WeChat and TikTok in the U.S. as of Sept. 20.

The state of play: President Trump has been in a standoff with TikTok, threatening to ban the app if its Chinese owner, ByteDance, does not relinquish control to a U.S. company. A deal is in the works with the American tech company Oracle, but would need to go through before Sunday to prevent TikTok from being ousted from app stores.

  • WeChat is another Chinese-owned messenger app that's risen data privacy concerns stateside.
  • The order will not block companies from doing business with WeChat's owner, Tencent Holdings.
  • Apple and Google will still be allowed to offer the apps outside of the U.S.

Worth noting: The Commerce Department's order would allow TikTok to continue operating through at least Nov. 12 for those who already have it downloaded.

  • But, by blocking it from app stores, it would likely prevent any updates or security patches to the app after this weekend.

Between the lines, via Axios' Dan Primack: TikTok already has filed a lawsuit to block Trump's executive order banning the app, and could ask for an emergency injunction were the president not to accept the proposed transaction with Oracle and Walmart.

What they're saying: "While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar. Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories," Commerce's order reads.

  • "Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP.  This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security."

The bottom line, via Axios' Scott Rosenberg: The move adds a new threat to the final stage of negotiations between ByteDance, Oracle, the U.S. and China. It's either a sign that the Trump administration intends to block the deal, or a last effort to squeeze more concessions from the Chinese company.

Go deeper: How the Oracle-TikTok deal would work

Go deeper

Aug 27, 2020 - Technology

Tech's deepening split over ads and privacy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new fight between Facebook and Apple over the mechanics of ad tech is surfacing an industry divide over user privacy and spotlighting longstanding dilemmas about the tracking and use of personal information online.

Why it matters: Privacy advocates have been sounding alarms for years about tech firms' expansive, sometimes inescapable data harvesting without making much headway in the U.S. But the game could change if major industry players start taking opposite sides.

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.