Explainer: How the U.S. could block WeChat and TikTok from Americans
(Reuters) - President Donald Trump has threatened to ban the short-video app TikTok and messaging service WeChat by late September on grounds that the Chinese-owned apps pose a national security threat.
(Reuters) - President Donald Trump has threatened to ban the short-video app TikTok and messaging service WeChat by late September on grounds that the Chinese-owned apps pose a national security threat. It would mark the first time the United States has attempted to shut down widely used mobile internet apps.
How would the U.S. go about blocking access to TikTok and WeChat?
The administration could order smartphone software giants Apple Inc
When the Indian government in June banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat, it asked Google and Apple to remove the apps from their app stores, two sources told Reuters. Both companies complied.
It would be a rare and possibly unprecedented step for the United States: Apple has not disclosed any app takedown requests from the U.S. government since it started publishing information on such requests in the second half of 2018.
The government could also order the apps to stop offering access to U.S. users by threatening them with legal repercussions. In India, some banned apps pulled themselves from app stores.
If I already have TikTok and WeChat on my phone, will I still be able to use them?
The apps would probably work, but government orders may bar updates, blocking access to new features and bug fixes.
Jay Kaplan, CEO of cybersecurity firm Synack and a former National Security Agency cybersecurity analyst, said it is "highly probable" Apple and Google can remotely disable installed apps, though experts were not aware of any instance in which they have done that recently. Apple and Google declined to comment.
Could users download the apps somewhere else?
Users with phones running Google's Android can install apps from alternatives to Google's official app store. Theoretically, they could download WeChat or TikTok from the companies' websites.
Using alternatives to Apple's App Store to install apps is more difficult, though not impossible. Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which has done extensive technical and censorship analysis of WeChat, said using unofficial stores carries the risk of installing versions of popular apps altered with viruses or scams.
Would U.S. users be able to access Web versions of the app?
U.S.-based hosting services such as Amazon.com Inc’s
Could internet service providers block users from accessing these services?
The government could order ISPs to block users from accessing WeChat's and TikTok's servers, as China does to enforce its Great Firewall. But it would not be an easy task for the U.S. government because the United States has thousands more ISPs than China, said Chester Wisniewski, a researcher at cybersecurity provider Sophos. A U.S. order to ISPs also could be challenged in court, legal experts say.
In India, the government did order telecom companies and other internet providers to block the Chinese-origin apps, according to notices seen by Reuters. Experts say there are no known cases of the U.S. ordering ISPs to ban access to sites.
What about VPNs?
Americans could use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to circumvent ISP blocks and browse the internet as if they were overseas. This is how internet users in China are able to reach services, such as Facebook, banned by the Great Firewall. Network experts said the same loophole would exist in the United States.
(Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee, Stephen Nellis, Paresh Dave, Sankalp Phartiyal, Aditya Y. Kalra; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Dan Grebler)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.