The policies put in place by President Trump to ban TikTok and WeChat from the United States have been revoked by President Biden. As a part of a new executive order, Biden has rescinded the blanket bans and has initiated a more measured approach to reviewing foreign-connected software applications.
Back in the middle of 2020, President Trump issued a series of executive orders that required the parent companies of WeChat and TikTok to spin off their United States operations and sell them to an American company or be prohibited. After jockeying from several American corporations, Oracle was eventually settled on to take over certain aspects of TikTok’s infrastructure. However, this deal never went through, and Trump’s executive orders have been dealt blows from court decisions.
After assuming the presidency, President Biden took further steps to prevent the TikTok and WeChat bans from going into effect. Today, his administration officially revoked Trump’s executive orders, meaning that TikTok and WeChat aren’t under imminent threat of prohibition in the United States. However, Biden has also empowered Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to review apps that are directly controlled by or fall under the jurisdiction of “foreign adversaries” (both TikTok and WeChat are owned by Chinese companies).
Under this initiative, the Department of Commerce has the authority to issue bans against apps that are deemed national security risks. Commerce will most likely be closely reviewing TikTok and WeChat, both of which have faced controversies stemming from links to Chinese government censorship and security efforts. In addition, as Bloomberg reports, this review process is designed to be flexible, taking into account the specific context of each company that is investigated.
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