US President Joe Biden has rescinded an executive order issued by his predecessor, Donald Trump, banning Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat in the United States.
The ban faced a series of legal challenges and was never enforced.
Instead, the US Department of Commerce will now review applications designed and developed by those within a “foreign adversary’s jurisdiction”, such as China.
Biden said the department should use an “evidence-based approach” to find out whether such apps pose a national security risk to the United States.
Tik Tok did not issue any comment on this news.
In 2020, Trump ordered a ban on new downloads of the video-sharing application “Tik Tok”, owned by the Chinese company, ByteDance.
He described it at the time as a threat to national security.
A proposal was made that would have the Oracle and Walmart groups have an entity responsible for handling US TikTok users’ data and modifying the content.
But a series of legal challenges, as well as the fact that Trump was about to leave office soon after, prevented enforcement of the ban.
In his new executive order, President Biden said the federal government should assess threats posed by China-based apps and software through “rigorous, evidence-based analysis” and should address “any unacceptable or unjustified risks consistent with national security.” general, foreign policy, and economic objectives.
Biden acknowledged that apps can “obtain and retain extensive information from users.”
“This data collection threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information,” he said.
About 80 million Americans use Tik Tok every month.
Ashley Gorsky, a prominent attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, welcomed the decision to repeal the ban.
“President Biden is right to rescind these Trump administration executive orders that flagrantly violate the First Amendment rights of TikTok and WeChat users in the United States,” she said.
“The Commerce Department’s review of these and other apps should not lead them down the same misguided path, by serving as a front in disguise for future bans or other illegal actions,” she added.
Next week, Biden is due to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and they are expected to announce a partnership on technology and trade, in an effort to respond to China’s rise as a tech superpower.
The partnership will likely include common standards on emerging technologies, as well as commitments to take stricter measures to monitor the internet, and work on critical issues facing the supply business that have arisen during the coronavirus pandemic.