Biden cancels Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat; orders a review

The US president has directed the Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo to keep an eye on software applications including TikTok that could affect the national security of the country.

Biden cancels Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat; orders a review
The White House still remains very concerned about the risks of TikTok users, a different agency official informed reporters. (Photo credit: AFP)

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday reversed the Trump-era bans on the new downloads of Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat and directed the Commerce Department to report security concerns posed by those apps and others. The Donald Trump administration had tried to restrict new users from downloading these apps and outlawed other technical transactions of WeChat and Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok. Both had stated, this would simply block the applications’ use in the US. The order of former President Trump mainly targeted Chinese companies- TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. and WeChat owner Tencent Holdings Ltd. and attempted to halt the use of many such apps in the United States. The courts barred those executive orders, which never took effect.

The executive order by US President Biden stated, “That continuing effort by foreign adversaries constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

An independent US national security review of TikTok started back in 2019 remains alive and ongoing, a White House official responded, declining to grant any particulars. However, the White House still remains very concerned about the risks of TikTok users, a different agency official informed reporters.

Biden scrutiny

The US president has directed the Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo to keep an eye on software applications including TikTok that could affect the national security of the country. He has also asked the Commerce Department to make recommendations within the next 120 days to protect US data acquired or obtainable by firms dominated by international adversaries.

What the apps had to say on this?

TikTok as well as WeChat did not immediately comment on the new developments.

Why the Trump ban?

The Trump presidency contended that TikTok and WeChat posed national security interests as delicate personal information of users from the US could be gathered by the government of China.

TikTok has over 100 million users in the US and has dismissed posing national security concerns. WeChat, which has been downloaded at least 19 million times by US users, is popularly used as a tool for payments, services and games.

Biden easing the ban on China

Earlier in the week, Biden approved an executive order halting US investment in some Chinese companies in the defence and surveillance technology areas. The mandate replaced a related Trump-era rule that did not endure legal scrutiny.