The White House on Wednesday revoked executive orders signed by Donald Trump in August 2020 that attempted to ban Chinese-owned social networks TikTok and WeChat in the United States. President Joe Biden has signed his own executive order to conduct a broader review of a number of applications controlled by “foreign adversaries,” primarily China, that could pose a risk to US national security, the economy and foreign policy.
The new executive order requires the Commerce Department to conduct an in-depth, “evidence-based” analysis of transactions involving applications that are manufactured, managed or controlled by China. It will also seek to establish “clear and intelligible criteria” to assess national security risks posed by connected software applications to foreign governments. Biden’s ruling replaces the Trump-era order because it was not implemented “in the strongest way,” high-ranking government officials explained Wednesday in a call with journalists.
Democratic Administration officials highlighted their concern about apps that collect personal data from users or have connections to Chinese military or intelligence activities. In parallel to the new executive order, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in American companies, is conducting an investigation into TikTok.
The popular short video social network was on the verge of being banned in the United States. Just hours before Trump’s veto came into effect, a federal judge in Washington ordered the injunction of the then Republican president’s executive order to be suspended. The Trump administration accused the popular social network, owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, of capturing “large amounts of information from its users.” Officials from the Biden Administration did not address the future of the app in the US or whether they will try to get ByteDance to transfer US user data to a company based in local territory.
Last year, following pressure from Trump, TikTok chose Oracle as its “technology partner” in the United States. The American company supposedly would take over a significant percentage of the application, but the agreement did not go ahead due to a series of legal disputes that favored the Chinese company. Earlier this year, when Biden first arrived at the White House, a legal attempt to transfer the data of US TikTok users to Oracle failed.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.