Biden REVOKES Trump's executive order that sought to ban TikTok

09 Juin, 2021, 22:21 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • US President Joe Biden speaks during a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa Oklahoma

The White House has dropped Trump-era executive orders that attempted to ban the popular apps TikTok and WeChat and will conduct its own review aimed at identifying national security risks with software applications tied to China.

The Commerce Department is also directed to "make recommendations to protect against harm from the sale, transfer of, or access to sensitive personal data" of USA customers to foreign adversaries.

The January order directed officials to ban transactions with eight Chinese apps including Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd's QQ Wallet and WeChat pay. 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.

The amount of data TikTok mines from its mobile phone users is on par with what other apps collect, including ones owned by Facebook and Google.

The order also "directs the Department of Commerce, in consultation with other US departments and agencies, to make recommendations to protect against harm from the sale, transfer of, or access to sensitive personal data, including personally identifiable information and genetic information - to include large data repositories - to persons owned or controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of, foreign adversaries".

The Biden administration's move reflects ongoing concern that Americans' personal data could be exposed by popular apps tied to China, a chief USA economic and political rival. Those companies have disputed those contentions.

But the apps are "not out of the woods yet", said James Lewis, who heads technology policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and has been in discussions with White House officials in both administrations about the future of the apps.

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TikTok slammed the Trump order.

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. This authority was first issued by Trump and is now being implemented by the Biden administration. Yet TikTok says Chinese government officials have never asked it for information on U.S. users. State media in China called Trump's tactics against TikTok "nothing short of broad daylight robbery". Numerous newly targeted companies are subsidiaries and affiliates of major state-owned companies and other businesses named on the earlier blacklist. Some US lawmakers have suggested that China could seek to exercise influence over popular apps like TikTok to spread disinformation or engage in censorship.

Next week, President Biden is due to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the two are expected to announce a partnership around technology and trade, in an attempt to push back on China's rise as a technology superpower. Part of his aim, officials said, will be to rally allies into taking on Beijing.

The new order also seeks recommendations on further toughening of the USA approach to protect sensitive data such as genetic information.

US courts have successfully blocked the former administration's August 2020 order banning the apps, which cited national security concerns due to a 2017 Chinese law that orders Chinese companies to share data with the government upon request.

But the Biden administration approach still faces challenges in addressing the complex problems raised by the global internet.

Notably, the Biden administration plans to seek more involvement of other friendly countries in its efforts to police data practices of apps based in potentially unfriendly countries.

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