President Biden has signed an executive order that will replace former President Trump’s orders aimed at banning U.S. transactions with Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat.
Under Thursday’s order, the Commerce Department will be instructed to review apps associated with foreign adversaries. Certain criteria will be developed to determine whether an app poses an “unacceptable risk” to national security, according to a White House fact sheet.
Apps that will be considered a higher risk for U.S. officials to transact with will be those "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."
The White House said the order was signed with the goal of protecting Americans’ personal data. It also directs the Commerce Department to collaborate with other agencies in drafting a report containing recommendations on how to protect American consumers’ personal data from foreign adversaries.
Collecting data from Americans “threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information,” the order said.
TikTok never banned
When Trump was the president, TikTok faced a possible ban unless it was purchased by a U.S. company. Walmart and Microsoft stepped up to try to buy the company, but TikTok ultimately went with Oracle as its “trusted technology provider.” However, no sale actually took place.
Once Biden took office, discussions about banning new downloads of the app were postponed. In February, The Wall Street Journal reported that TikTok’s Oracle deal had been “shelved indefinitely.”
The short-form video sharing app remains wildly popular in the U.S., with over 100 million users. TikTok and WeChat have both refuted claims that they pose risks to national security. A White House official said a separate national security review of TikTok is ongoing.