President Biden on Wednesday repealed a Trump-era executive order banning the popular TikTok and WeChat apps, and replaced it with one calling for a broader review of a number of foreign-controlled apps that pose a security risk to Americans and theirs Data.
In a call to reporters on Wednesday, administration officials said the Trump-era order had not been implemented “in the most sensible way” and that the new policy included “clear criteria” for assessing the national security risks posed by software applications foreign governments, especially China.
The order will affect a range of applications and support recent moves by the Biden government to curb the growing influence of Chinese technology companies. And it’s the first significant step Mr Biden has taken to address a challenge left him by former President Donald J. Trump, whose government fought to ban TikTok and allow its Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell the app to force. Litigation ensued immediately and the app is still available while the battle languishes in court.
On Wednesday, administration officials said a review of TikTok by the United States Foreign Investment Committee, the body that reviews the national security impact of foreign investment in U.S. companies, is still ongoing and is separate from the order.
Mr Biden’s order “will instruct the Minister of Commerce to use a criteria-based decision-making framework and rigorous, evidence-based analysis to assess and address the risks” posed by foreign-run applications, according to a memo distributed by the Ministry of Commerce and me by the New York Times received. “If warranted, the secretary will determine appropriate measures based on a thorough examination of the risks posed by foreign opponents’ software applications.”
TikTok declined to comment on Wednesday morning.
Mr Biden’s order was intended to augment an order issued by the Trump administration in 2019 that prohibited American telecommunications companies from installing overseas-made equipment that could pose a threat to national security. No specific companies were named in that order, including that issued by Mr Biden on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, administrative officials refused to go into details about TikTok’s future availability to American users or say whether the U.S. government would attempt to force ByteDance to transfer American user data to a U.S.-based company. Amid a series of successful legal challenges by ByteDance, a deal to transfer the data to Oracle failed earlier this year shortly after Mr. Biden took office.