Biden drops plan to ban TikTok, WeChat: White House


Some US lawmakers have suggested that China could seek to exercise influence over popular apps like TikTok to spread disinformation or engage in censorship. The administration argued that Americans' private data gathered through the app could be handed over to the authoritarian regime in China, something TikTok has said it would never do.

Last week, the president expanded a Trump-era prohibition on Americans investing in Chinese companies with purported links to China's military.

The Commerce Department is also directed to "make recommendations to protect against harm from the sale, transfer of, or access to sensitive personal data" of US customers to foreign adversaries.

TikTok has been looking to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review Trump's divestment order and the government's national security review.

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.

The new executive order should lead to a framework for protecting Americans' data from China, rather than targeting specific companies, and could pressure Congress to enact a data-security law in the years ahead, said Paul Triolo, a tech policy expert at the Eurasia Group consultancy. Meanwhile, the Biden administration said that the original Executive Order signed by Trump was not carried out "in the soundest fashion", and that the new rules will examine privacy and security risks of apps located in certain countries (like China) by providing certain criteria that must be followed by apps from those countries that are available in the states.

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Trump defended his stance against the Chinese services by invoking national security concerns and apparent worries about the personal data of American users.

Mr Biden's officials have insisted that they plan to be just as tough as Mr Trump was on Chinese tech investments, but replace his sometimes ad hoc broadsides with a more legalistic approach. This authority was first issued by Trump and is now being implemented by the Biden administration. This prevents the USA from attempting to ban apps from specific regions without a legitimate reason for doing so. Numerous newly targeted companies are subsidiaries and affiliates of major state-owned companies and other businesses named on the earlier blacklist. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that aims to boost United States semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in the face of growing worldwide competition. Part of his aim, officials said, will be to rally allies into taking on Beijing.

US courts have successfully blocked the former administration's August 2020 order banning the apps, which cited national security concerns due to a 2017 Chinese law that orders Chinese companies to share data with the government upon request.

He acknowledged that apps can "access and capture vast swathes of information from users".

A memo describing the order that was circulated by the Commerce Department and obtained by CNN specifically says that apps that are made by those subject to Chinese law are covered under the order.