The Trump administration has begun to look into barring additional mobile apps from operating within the United States, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The move follows the decision last month to ban social media platform TikTok from the country due to security concerns. The administration now is considering applying similar action against popular mobile games Azur Lane and Arknights.
Both game titles are published in the US by Yostar Games, known for handling international distribution of mobile games primarily developed in China. As with TikTok, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, White House officials have raised concerns that user data collected by the apps could potentially pose a national security risk.
“When people download either of these apps, they are not going to be considering the possible risks involved,” stated Pompeo in a recent interview. “They are going to be distracted by all the incredibly cute girls throughout these games. If China is going to threaten the global strength of our democracy, it’s not going to be through traditional means, it’s going to be cleverly disguised under the face of a smiling anime girl.”
Critics expressed doubt over the intentions behind the move. Many stated their concerns that the bans were based on the President’s own personal bias rather than concrete evidence of security violations. Trump himself has been strongly supportive of campaign donor RAID: Shadow Legends, often repeatedly reminding the supporters at his rallies of the “hundreds of champions to collect and customize”.
Yostar Games has defended both Azur Lane and Arknights, stating that they have never exploited any of their players for personal information, only their money. Nonetheless, the President has threatened that he will take executive action against Yostar to force the sale of its games to a more trustworthy American tech company without a history of abusing user data. Currently, it is rumored that Facebook is likely the most interested buyer if the order goes through.