President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked a series of Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban Chinese-owned apps such as TikTok and WeChat, while also directing his Commerce Department to initiate its own review in identifying national security risks associated with the apps.
According to the Associated Press, the new executive order “directs the Commerce Department to undertake what officials describe as an ‘evidence-based’ analysis of transactions involving apps that are manufactured or supplied or controlled by China.”
The department will also reportedly make recommendations on how to best “protect against harm from the unrestricted sale of, transfer of, or access to United States persons’ sensitive data,” including information such as “personally identifiable information, personal health information, and genetic information, and harm from access to large data repositories by persons owned or controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of, a foreign adversary.”
Owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, TikTok has repeatedly denied sharing user data with the Chinese Communist Party. Under the country’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, however, any Chinese organization or citizen is required to “support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law, and keep the secrets of the national intelligence work known to the public.” The law also notes that the state shall protect “individuals and organizations that support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence work.”
A U.S. national security review of TikTok launched in late 2019 remains active and ongoing, according to White House officials. A timeline for its release has not been disclosed, however.