USA drops Trump order targeting TikTok, plans its own review

Brenda Watkins
June 10, 2021

Courts had blocked the Trump administration's efforts to ban TikTok and WeChat, which began in summer 2020, but a national-security review of TikTok by a government group called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, is ongoing.

Biden's new executive order revokes the WeChat and TikTok orders, along with another in January that targeted eight other communications and financial technology software applications.

According to the Associated Press, the new executive order "directs the Commerce Department to undertake what officials describe as an "evidence-based" analysis of transactions involving apps that are manufactured or supplied or controlled by China".

But a senior administration official said Wednesday that the Trump actions weren't "always implemented in the soundest fashion" and the aim of the review is to set up clear criteria to evaluate specific data security and privacy risks for each app.

Trump's measures have been blocked by federal judges, who said the former administration hadn't shown those apps in particular posed a national security threat justifying a ban.

Most recently, the popular app made a quiet update to its privacy policy that allows TikTok to collect biometric data of USA users that includes faceprints and voiceprints.

The officials say they remain concerned about security risks from Chinese and certain other foreign-owned apps but that the executive orders signed by Mr. Trump were effectively unenforceable.

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The move brings the United Kingdom a step closer to meeting the target to offer all adults a vaccine by the end of July. And separately we have a piece of work on what the social distancing rules should be after that", he said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, Tencent and ByteDance could not be immediately reached for comment. The data includes personally identifiable information and genetic information that would go to people directly linked to foreign adversaries, including China, according to a White House fact sheet.

TikTok slammed the Trump order. Some US lawmakers have suggested that China could seek to exercise influence over popular apps like TikTok to spread disinformation or engage in censorship. The order replaced a similar Trump-era order that did not withstand legal scrutiny.

A second federal judge later fully blocked the Trump administration's attempt to ban TikTok in the United States, finding that Trump overstepped his authority in using emergency economic powers to put the popular app out of business. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that aims to boost United States semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in the face of growing global competition.

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.

Biden's executive order also directs the Commerce Department within 120 days to make recommendations to protect USA data acquired or accessible by companies controlled by foreign adversaries.

Trump's administration had worked to ban TikTok and force its Chinese owned company, ByteDance, to sell the app.

The announcement highlights how the Biden administration shares numerous same national security concerns as the Trump administration regarding Chinese-made mobile apps, even as Biden withdraws the specific orders targeting individual companies.

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