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President Biden revokes Trump's TikTok ban
Rasit Aydogan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden revokes Trump's TikTok ban

President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked the Trump administration's bans on TikTok and WeChat. Replacing his predecessor's executive orders, Biden directed the commerce secretary to investigate apps with ties to foreign adversaries of the United States that might pose a national security risk or compromise the data privacy of American citizens.

Biden's executive order revokes and replaces several orders issued by former President Donald Trump last year, which blocked TikTok, WeChat, and Alipay from being accessed on U.S. app stores. The Trump administration also attempted to prevent those apps from operating within the United States, but ongoing court challenges prevented most of those orders from going into effect, the Verge reported.

"The Biden Administration is committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet; protecting human rights online and offline; and supporting a vibrant, global digital economy," the White House said in a statement.

"Certain countries, including the People's Republic of China (PRC), do not share these values and seek to leverage digital technologies and Americans' data in ways that present unacceptable national security risks while advancing authoritarian controls and interests."

The new orders require the Department of Commerce to "evaluate foreign adversary connected software applications" under a new framework for identifying which foreign apps might pose security or data collection risks.

There is widespread concern that America's foreign adversaries are using social media apps to collect data on American citizens. For example, Chinese-owned TikTok quietly updated its privacy policy last week to enable the app to collect users' biometric data, including faceprints and voiceprints.

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 U.S. customers to foreign adversaries.

Biden's order does not address actions or investigations taken by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which under Trump's direction set deadlines for apps like TikTok to divest from their foreign owners.

"The CFIUS action remains under active discussion by the US government," a senior administration official told the Verge.

President Trump's original executive order banning TikTok was blocked by a federal court injunction last December. The court had determined the ban was "arbitrary and capricious" because the Trump administration failed "to adequately consider an obvious and reasonable alternative before banning TikTok." Biden sidestepped pending litigation by repealing the order outright and issuing new directives.

The president will meet overseas with European and NATO leaders this week to discuss actions the international community can take to hold China more accountable.

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