Published: Thu, June 10, 2021

Biden revokes and replaces Trump actions targeting TikTok and WeChat

Biden revokes and replaces Trump actions targeting TikTok and WeChat

Due to their ownership by two Chinese firms, past year ex-President Donald Trump and his administration tried to ban popular short form video app TikTok and social media, messaging, and mobile payment app WeChat from operating in the U.S. In addition, Trump issued a series of Executive Orders that attempted to block these apps from being listed in U.S. app stores.

Former President Donald Trump signed executive orders past year to ban the applications' parent organizations from transacting with American companies due to concerns over surveillance and their connections to the Chinese government.

"President Biden is right to revoke these Trump administration executive orders, which blatantly violated the First Amendment rights of TikTok and WeChat users in the United States", she said.

President Donald Trump signed executive orders in August 2020 putting in place a ban of TikTok and WeChat in 45 days if they were not sold.

During this saga, TikTok remained adamant that the Trump administration could not provide substantial evidence that it had posed any national security risk to the United States.

Specifically, the Commerce Department will be required to investigate 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".

The Trump administration had appealed judicial orders blocking the bans on TikTok and WeChat, but after Biden took office in January, the U.S. Justice Department asked to pause the appeals.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, Tencent and ByteDance could not be immediately reached for comment.

The White House remains very concerned about the data risks of TikTok users, another administration official told reporters.

This includes apps that could be used to support military or intelligence activities by other countries, or could be used to collect sensitive personal data, the White House said.

Most recently, the popular app made a quiet update to its privacy policy that allows TikTok to collect biometric data of U.S. users that includes faceprints and voiceprints. CapCut, a video-editing app also owned by ByteDance app, has seen a surge in downloads in the USA recently. The order replaced a similar Trump-era order that did not withstand legal scrutiny. The court had determined the ban was "arbitrary and capricious" because the Trump administration failed "to adequately consider an obvious and reasonable alternative before banning TikTok".

To appease Trump, TikTok also explored potential sales to American firms, including Microsoft, Oracle and Walmart.

In March, the US joined allies in imposing sanctions against Chinese officials engaged in the mass incarceration of mainly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. Tuesday the Senate approved a $250 billion bill boosting government spending on technology research and development amid rising competition from China and other nations.

The new order also seeks recommendations on further toughening of the US approach to protect sensitive data such as genetic information.

Mr. Biden departed Wednesday for his first overseas trip as president and will meet with European and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders as well as hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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