Saturday, 19 June, 2021


Biden Revokes Trump-Era Bans On Chinese-Owned Tiktok, WeChat

US President Joe Biden speaks during a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa Oklahoma Joe Biden Plans to Surrender Protections for American Steel and Aluminum MANDEL NGAN AFP via Getty Images John Carney9 Jun 2021
Hannah Rogers | 10 June, 2021, 01:51

Due to their ownership by two Chinese firms, previous year ex-President Donald Trump and his administration tried to ban popular short form video app TikTok and social media, messaging, and mobile payment app WeChat from operating in the U.S. In addition, Trump issued a series of Executive Orders that attempted to block these apps from being listed in U.S. app stores.

Under Biden's new order, the Commerce Department will launch an "evidence-based" evaluation of apps with Chinese connections that may pose a security risk and "take action, as appropriate" based on those reviews.

Former President Donald Trump's TikTok and WeChat bans were officially dropped on Wednesday, but scrutiny of the China-owned apps will continue under the Biden administration.

Trump's executive actions targeting ByteDance, a Beijing-based firm that owns TikTok, and WeChat, which is owned by the Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings, were blocked by several federal court orders.

Biden's new executive order revokes the WeChat and TikTok orders issued in August, along with another in January that targeted eight other communications and financial technology software applications.

Instead, the White House announced its own review of potential national security concerns over apps that are controlled by China.

Biden's order seeks to identify any "connected software applications that may pose an unacceptable risk to United States national security and the American people" including "applications 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". However, the new order did not address deadlines set by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in the Trump era for ByteDance to divest from TikTok. WeChat did not respond to a request for comment. TikTok executives say no data on Americans users is housed on Chinese servers; that data can only be obtained with the permission of TikTok's USA -based security team.

US officials have maintained that TikTok, WeChat and other Chinese-owned apps collect data that could be shared with China's authoritarian government.

TikTok is used by about 80 million Americans every month.

In March, the US joined allies in imposing sanctions against Chinese officials engaged in the mass incarceration of mainly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.

TikTok, which has been downloaded more than 100 million times in the United States, got caught up in Trump's crackdown on Chinese technology companies and their influence in the US. The court had determined the ban was "arbitrary and capricious" because the Trump administration failed "to adequately consider an obvious and reasonable alternative before banning TikTok".

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that aims to boost USA semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in the face of growing worldwide competition.

The president will meet overseas with European and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders this week to discuss actions the global community can take to hold China more accountable.

The Biden administration's move reflects the ongoing concern that Americans' personal data could be exposed by popular apps tied to China, a chief U.S. economic and political rival.

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