Biden administration revokes Trump-era orders against TikTok and WeChat
During his term as President, Donald Trump fired executive orders against Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat in August, calling their widespread use a "national emergency". On Wednesday, incumbent President Joe Biden revoked these executive orders. The new order signed by Biden directed the US Commerce Department to regularly evaluate apps linked to adversaries like China and take action if they pose national security risks.
Trump-era orders attempted to block fresh downloads, blocked by court
In August, the Trump administration passed orders to ban new downloads of TikTok and WeChat. Additionally, the order blocked the apps from processing transactions for US citizens after September 20. The courts, however, blocked the orders and prevented them from taking effect. Subsequently, Trump issued a separate order threatening to completely ban TikTok unless sold to a US company by November 14.
Ban was in interest of national security: Trump administration lawyers
The Guardian reported that lawyers of the Trump administration said it was in the interest of national security to ban the apps due to links between TikTok's parent company ByteDance and the Chinese government. A separate US national security review of TikTok launched in late-2019 remains active, according to a White House official who declined to offer additional details.
Biden's order takes lenient approach, commerce department will keep watch
Biden's new order revokes the order passed by the Trump administration in August, and another in January that targeted eight other communications and financial technology applications. The new order takes a more diplomatic approach, saying that collecting data from Americans "threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information." The commerce department has been directed to evaluate transactions "on a continuing basis."
Biden also signed order banning investment in Chinese defense companies
The commerce department has been directed to act if any transactions related to TikTok and WeChat reportedly "pose an undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security and resilience of the critical infrastructure or digital economy of the United States." Biden also signed an order that banned US investment in Chinese defense and surveillance technology companies. A similar Trump order didn't withstand legal scrutiny.