On Wednesday, the White House rescinded executive orders dating back to the era of former President Donald Trump that were trying to block the “Tik Tok” and “WeChat” applications, and it will conduct its own review to determine the risks of China-related programs to US national security.
A new executive order directed the US Department of Commerce to conduct what officials describe as “evidence-based” analysis of transactions involving applications made, provided or controlled by China. Officials are particularly interested in applications that collect personal user data or have links to Chinese military or intelligence activities.
The department will also make recommendations on how to increase protection of Americans’ health and personal information, and address the risks of certain software applications linked to China or other adversaries, according to senior administration officials.
The move by President Joe Biden’s administration reflects the persistent concern that Americans’ personal data could be exposed through popular applications linked to China, the main economic and political rival of the United States.
Both the White House and Congress have taken measures to deal with Beijing’s technological progress, and the US Senate, on Tuesday, passed a bill aimed at boosting semiconductor production in the United States and developing artificial intelligence and other technologies, in the face of increasing international competition.
Trump targeted TikTok during the summer of 2020 with a series of requests that indicated concerns about US data the app collects from its users.
Courts temporarily blocked the White House’s bid to ban, and the presidential election quickly overshadowed the TikTok battle.
The Biden administration earlier this year backed away from Trump’s attempts to ban the popular video app TikTok and asked a court to adjourn a legal dispute, as the government begins a broader review of the national security threats posed by Chinese tech companies.
One court filing said the US Commerce Department was reviewing whether Trump’s claims about the national security threat “TikTok” justified attempts to ban it from smartphone app stores and deny it vital technical services.