President Biden on Wednesday moved to revoke former President Trump’s executive orders aimed at cracking down on TikTok and WeChat, popular China-based social media apps that the Trump administration feared would collect US user data and could be used to spying on americans.
Trump’s Commerce Department pursued the app ban last year after Trump signed two executive orders in August with the aim of blocking transactions with WeChat and China’s owner of TikTok ByteDance. Mr. Biden canceled those orders on Wednesday and canceled a January 2021 order from Trump that banned the transactions of eight China-related software applications.
According to the White House, Biden is replacing Trump’s orders with new versions to create a “criteria-based decision framework” to analyze any risks posed by information and communications technology services involving foreign adversaries such as China.
The White House has ordered agencies to evaluate software applications and transactions that could pose national security risks in the United States. Mr. Biden also told the federal government to provide recommendations to his team on how to protect Americans’ personally identifiable information from foreign adversaries.
Prior to Trump’s executive orders, several federal agencies had banned TikTok from government devices, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. military.
The Trump administration’s concern over TikTok and WeChat was about China’s moves to remove the barriers between the country’s commercial sector and its government. The companies ‘ties to China raised concerns that the data collected via their apps would be learned by the Chinese government and that the government could use the companies’ products to monitor Americans.
TikTok declined to comment on Mr. Biden’s order. TikTok and its China-based owner ByteDance had previously opposed the Trump administration’s actions in federal court and pursued several business transactions to reside TikTok in the United States in an effort to satisfy the Trump administration’s concerns about its property based in China.
Tencent, the Chinese company that owns the WeChat social messaging app, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.