U.S. president Donald Trump recently signed executive orders targeting TikTok’s parent company ByteDance and gaming giant Tencent, the latter of which not only took many by surprise but also alarmed the games industry.
The executive order against Tencent takes issue with its WeChat service, and prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in any transactions. However, given Tencent’s involvement in the games industry and its ownership stakes in multiple high profile companies, the move quickly came under scrutiny. Many opined that it was inviting a legal challenge.
The White House later confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that President Trump’s executive order does not target Tencent’s gaming business, only its WeChat service. The administration offered no further details, leaving legal experts to warn that the language of the executive order gives the U.S. Department of Commerce the ability to go after any company that has dealings with Tencent, which includes Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, Riot Games, and Ubisoft among others.
“Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users,” argues the executive order. “This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
“The language [of the executive order] is atrocious,” Bryan Sullivan of Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m sure that the administration would say it’s not meant to do that [target Tencent’s gaming business], but looking at the language of it, there’s definitely a legal argument that it could apply.”
Sullivan added that he doesn’t believe Commerce will go to such lengths but reiterated that the executive order grants the department the power to do so.
[Source: Los Angeles Times]