VPN usage soared in the US following TikTok decision

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US users have become increasingly interested in VPN services following the news that TikTok (opens in new tab), WeChat and other Chinese-made apps could soon be banned entirely in the country.

As reported by CNBC (opens in new tab), VPN downloads soared over the weekend as more citizens became aware that they may soon be unable to access TikTok and other Chinese apps. 

A VPN allow users to change the IP address of their computer, tablet or smartphone to one in a different country where access to certain websites and services have yet to be blocked.

Ironically, Chinese users already rely on VPNs to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other Western apps and services that are blocked by the country's Great Firewall. Now though, it looks like users in the US will soon have to follow suit if they wish to continue using TikTok and WeChat following President Trump's ban on both apps.

VPN downloads

CNBC spoke with digital privacy expert at NordVPN (opens in new tab), Daniel Markuson who provided further insight in the recent surge of VPN downloads, saying: “Expecting a (TikTok) ban to go into effect on Sunday, people rushed looking for VPN more actively: this weekend alone inquiries from the U.S. surged by 34%.” 

ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) also saw a major increase in traffic with the company's vice president Harold Li telling the news outlet that, “We saw a 20% increase in traffic to our website from the U.S. following Trump’s initial announcement of a potential TikTok and WeChat ban in early August.”

Back in August, searches for VPN services online also increased following rumors that the Trump administration would soon ban TikTok. In fact, this trend tends to repeat itself whenever a country tries to take away the ability of its citizens to access online sites and services as was the case in Hong Kong ahead of the implementation of China's new national security law.

While the TikTok ban will affect younger users the most, the WeChat ban is a different story as many Chinese people living in the US and Chinese Americans use the chat app as a means to keep in touch with their family members in China. Both apps have large user bases and VPN downloads could increase exponentially if the US government does go through with its plans to ban them over national security concerns.

  • Also check out our complete list of the best VPN (opens in new tab) services

Via CNBC (opens in new tab)

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.