President Biden revoked executive orders issued against the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat apps by former President Donald Trump today. Biden then signed a new order mandating security reviews of apps that are owned by or in the jurisdiction of foreign adversaries.
The White issued a fact sheet that said the Commerce Department will review apps “involving software applications that are designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons that are owned or controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary, including the People’s Republic of China, that may present an undue or unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States and the American people.”
“The Biden Administration is committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet, protecting human rights online and offline, and supporting a vibrant, global digital economy,” a Commerce Department memo said.
“Certain countries, 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. Through this E.O. the United States is taking strong steps to protect Americans’ sensitive data from collection and utilization by foreign adversaries through connected software applications.”
The announcement highlights how the Biden administration shares many of the same national security concerns as the Trump administration regarding Chinese-made mobile apps, even as Biden withdraws the specific orders targeting individual companies.
In the past year, policymakers across Washington have raised concerns that app makers with ties to China could be forced by Beijing to hand over their customers’ personal information.
Some US lawmakers have suggested that China could seek to exercise influence over popular apps like TikTok to spread disinformation or engage in censorship. TikTok declined to comment.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China. Last year, the Trump administration sought to force ByteDance to spin off TikTok into a new company owned primarily by US investors.
He also signed an executive order that led to the Commerce Department seeking a ban of TikTok from US-based app stores. But those efforts stalled amid litigation over the legality of Trump’s executive actions.
For months, TikTok has been negotiating with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a multi-agency national security panel, on ways it could secure the data of US users.
The Biden administration’s new executive order does not affect those negotiations, which are a separate process, according to a person familiar with the matter.
President Joe Biden revoked a series of executive orders signed during the Trump administration targeting TikTok, WeChat and other Chinese apps, and replaced them with a new executive order addressing apps linked to foreign adversaries, including China. https://t.co/9b72EV3M5f
— CNN (@CNN) June 9, 2021
NEW: Biden signed an executive order revoking and replacing three Trump-era executive orders on Chinese-owned apps to ensure a more structured "criteria-based decision framework" for potential bans. https://t.co/yccUnLmonC
— Axios (@axios) June 9, 2021
Another example of where the existing executive order should stay in place. https://t.co/XYGJdebzx5
— Richard Rogers (@rogers4pres2024) June 9, 2021