Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Chesney Assesses the Commerce Department’s Statement on the TikTok and WeChat Sanctions

Oct 20, 2020 |

In a recent piece published for Lawfare, Professor Robert Chesney, Director of the Strauss Center and James Baker Chair and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the UT School of Law, discusses the scope of the recent U.S. sanctions on TikTok and WeChat, which went into effect on September 20, 2020. Chesney specifically discusses the recent announcement made by the Department of Commerce which describes which transactions in particular would be forbidden. The verdict, he notes, is a win for TikTok, and a loss for WeChat. The announcement stated that it will become illegal to distribute TikTok in the U.S., meaning current users can continue to use the app, and the app can continue to pay its employees and other affiliates until November 12, when the company must begin selling off its U.S. operations. Thus, Chesney adds, the company has plenty of time to continue to negotiate the terms of a deal. As for WeChat, Chesney states it will be “hit immediately with a full suite of sanctions,” including a ban on distribution, a prohibition of the use of the app for payments within the United States, and a “variety of prohibitions on providing internet access and other forms of technical support to enable the ongoing functioning of the app inside the United States.” Chesney adds that it will take time to ascertain the full impact of the sanction on WeChat, but that the outlook—from the vantage point of the application and its users—is grim. Read his full analysis here.