Biden revokes former President Trumps executive orders which targeted Tiktok and other Chinese apps

On Thursday President Biden revoked several Trump era executive orders which had attempted to ban Chinese owned apps like Tiktok and WeChat.

In its place he signed an executive order which would mandate a broad review of apps controlled by foreign adversaries to identify any risks they might pose to national security. Although Biden has revoked the sanctions imposed by Trump on Tiktok and WeChat he has still called for a new “rigorous, evidence based analysis” to develop criteria for assessing potential security risks associated with apps that are “owned, controlled, or managed by persons that support foreign adversary military or intelligence activities, or are involved in malicious cyber activities, or involve applications that collect sensitive personal data.” Therefore, aiming to protect the personal data of the millions of American citizens using these platforms.

The Biden administration has also backed down on Trump’s bans on other Chinese owned apps like Alipay, Tencent, Camscanner, SHAREIt, Vmate and WPS Office, telling reporters that Trump’s executive orders were not implemented in the “soundest fashion.” Biden’s order also instructs the Department of Commerce to draft a report with recommendations on how to protect personal data, including generic data, as well as a second report containing policy proposals.

A memo which was obtained by CNN specifically mentions that apps subject to Chinese law must be covered; “The Biden Administration is committed to promoting open, interoperable, reliable and secure internet, protecting human rights online and offline … Certain counties, including the PRC, that do not share these democratic values seek to leverage digital technologies and Americans’ data in ways that present unacceptable national security risks while advancing authoritarian controls and interests.”

Over the past year lawmakers have been raising concerns that app developers with close ties to China could be forced to hand over customer information to the Chinese government. Some lawmakers have even suggested that China could use these apps to spread disinformation or enact censorship by exerting its influence on the companies. Perhaps one of the most prominent targets of Trump’s company specific executive orders was Tiktok, owned by ByteDance which is based in China. Trump tried to force ByteDance to split Tiktok off into its own separate company which would be owned primarily by American investors.

Trump also signed an executive order aiming to ban Tiktok from the U.S. app store; however, this effort was stalled by litigation questioning the legality of the executive order. For the last several months Tiktok has been negotiating with the Committee on Foreign Investment on ways it could better secure the data of US users. Eric Sayers, a U.S. – China tech expert at the American Enterprise Institute said that the executive order “signals an alignment of concern across two administrations on these issues, but also because the new administration is clearly moving from a review phase to more of an action phase.”


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