President Biden recently revoked a number of executive orders signed by the Trump administration, targeting WeChat, TikTok, and other Chinese apps. The Biden administration has, instead, replaced these orders with a new executive order addressing apps that are linked to foreign adversaries – a list which includes China.
According to a White House news release, the new order is aimed at protecting the personal data of Americans and orders the Commerce Department to develop criteria to assess possible national security risks that are linked to apps that are “owned, controlled, or managed by persons that support foreign adversary military or intelligence activities, or are involved in malicious cyber activities, or involve applications that collect sensitive personal data.”
The announcement highlights how the Biden administration shares many national security concerns that the Trump administration did regarding international mobile apps, although President Joe Biden has withdrawn specific orders that target individual international companies.
In the last year, policymakers in Washington raised concerns that app creators with ties to China could possibly be forced by Beijing to share the personal information of customers. Some American lawmakers also suggested that Beijing may seek to exercise some degree of control over popular apps in an effort to spread disinformation. TikTok, however, declined to comment on this.
For many months now, TikTok has been in talks with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. on ways it could attempt to secure the data of users in the United States. President Biden’s new order does not impact those negotiations, given that they are a separate process.