President Joe Biden has officially dropped former President Donald Trump’s executive orders that attempted to ban the apps TikTok and WeChat. Instead, the White House will conduct its own review of apps with ties to foreign adversaries that may pose a risk to American data privacy or national security. The new executive order directs the Department of Commerce to undertake an “evidence-based” analysis “of transactions involving apps that are manufactured or supplied or controlled by China,” according to The Associated Press.
“The administration is committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet and to protecting human rights online and offline, and to supporting a vibrant global digital economy,” a senior administration official said Wednesday.
Neither TikTok nor WeChat responded to requests for comment.
TikTok sued the Trump’s administration last August, saying the president’s executive orders attempting to block it from conducting transactions within the United States targeted the company and denied it due process.
“We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees,” the company said in its suit. “Our more than 1,500 employees across the U.S. pour their hearts into building this platform every day,” the company said, noting that it planned to hire more than 10,000 more workers across eight states in the coming years.
TikTok said the Trump administration “failed to follow due process and act in good faith, neither providing evidence that TikTok was an actual threat, nor justification for its punitive actions.” Moreover, the company says that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s determination that TikTok posed a national security threat was based on “outdated news articles” and not on documentation TikTok provided outlining the security of user data.
Trump had earlier issued two executive orders to prohibit any transactions with WeChat or TikTok by any person or involving any property subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The former president said WeChat, made by Tencent, and TikTok, made by ByteDance, were being used by the Chinese Communist Party to obtain Americans’ proprietary information, to surveil Chinese citizens abroad, and spearhead disinformation campaigns.
“The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” the former president wrote at the time.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.