October 28, 2020

Explaining Trump’s Potential Ban on TikTok, WeChat: Q&A

Yes. Apps like WeChat and TikTok are not static. They are live internet services that require maintenance, which includes security and bug fixes, and if you stop receiving updates, the apps may eventually cease to work properly. So even if you are grandfathered in, so to speak, this type of prohibition could effectively bar you from using the apps alongside other TikTok and WeChat users around the globe. (Best-case scenario, the apps will continue to work but poorly.)

The situation may be even more dire for WeChat users. Because of the ban on transactions between American businesses and WeChat, the service may begin to degrade on Sunday. Messages may begin sending slowly or even time out.

For TikTok users, that service degradation won’t happen unless a full ban takes effect on Nov. 12.

Nothing practical. TikTok is trying to reach a deal with Oracle, an American tech company, and others before November to avoid a ban.

Google Android users may try to “sideload” future versions of the WeChat and TikTok apps on to their devices, a process that involves changing some security settings to download apps from outside Google’s official app store.

Apple phones also have methods to install unauthorized applications. But sideloading and installing apps through unofficial channels is impractical, because it can compromise device security, and it is not simple for many people to do.

Apple and Google users could also try to download the apps from foreign app stores by traveling to other countries. Or they could use a virtual private network, a service that creates a virtual tunnel to shield your browsing information from your internet service provider, to manipulate their device location. Again, this is impractical.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/technology/tiktok-wechat-ban.html

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