Biden withdraws Trump-era executive order that attempted to ban TikTok, WeChat

Lawrence Kim
June 9, 2021

The order Wednesday doesn't target any companies specifically.

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.

The president signed an executive order revoking actions targeting TikTok and WeChat put forward by former President Donald Trump, according to a statement released by the White House on Wednesday.

Because of the ties to China, U.S. officials remain concerned about how the apps treat Americans' data, Lewis said.

Federal court rulings had blocked the orders from taking effect.

TikTok also collects information from messages sent within the app, metadata, location data, device information and cookies (data on a user's device that makes targeted advertising possible).

TikTok on Wednesday declined to comment.

The WeChat order threatened to take on its Chinese-based parent company Tencent, by banning financial transactions with the company.

The "increased use in the United States of certain connected software applications designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned or controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of, a foreign adversary", which the Secretary of Commerce has defined to include China among others, "continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States".

The goal of collecting biometric data on TikTok is for enabling "special video effects, for content moderation, for demographic classification, for content and ad recommendations, and for other non-personally-identifying operations", the policies state. Those companies have disputed those contentions.

The Trump administration's attempted bans didn't hold up legally as courts blocked them, and also "ran up against this critique that they were mimicking China's Great Firewall", said Samm Sacks, a fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center.

TikTok also faces a separate government panel review handling worldwide transactions. Chinese companies coveting the US market will have to be better prepared for data compliance challenges. Numerous newly targeted companies are subsidiaries and affiliates of major state-owned companies and other businesses named on the earlier blacklist. CapCut, a video-editing app also owned by ByteDance app, has seen a surge in downloads in the US recently. 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.

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

The new order also calls for a security review of the apps.

Trump's administration had worked to ban TikTok and force its Chinese owned company, ByteDance, to sell the app.

But the Biden administration approach still faces challenges in addressing the complex problems raised by the global internet.

Allies say that Mr Biden plans to rally other countries against Chinese tech, which has quickly spread across the world and been incorporated into the infrastructure of many developing countries.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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