By Adedapo Adesanya
The President of the United States, Mr Joe Biden, on Wednesday, revoked executive orders from his predecessor, Mr Donald Trump, seeking to ban Chinese-owned mobile apps, TikTok and WeChat, over national security concerns.
In a statement, the White House said that instead of banning the popular apps, the Biden administration would carry out a “criteria-based decision framework and rigorous, evidence-based analysis to address the risks” from internet applications controlled by foreign entities.
Business Post had reported that before leaving office last year, Mr Trump had claimed the Chinese-owned apps posed national security risks and had sought to force the sale of TikTok to US investors.
He sought to ban the app unless it sold to an American company.
However, Mr Biden, in a different manner, is seeking to identify any “connected software applications that may pose an unacceptable risk to US national security and the American people” including “applications 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 administration is committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet and to protecting human rights online and offline, and to supporting a vibrant global digital economy,” said the White House.
“The challenge that we’re addressing with this EO is that certain countries, including China, do not share these commitments or values and are instead working to leverage digital technologies and American data in ways that present unacceptable national security risks.”
The new executive order calls for the country’s Commerce Department and other federal agencies to develop guidelines “to protect sensitive personal data… including personally identifiable information and genetic information” from misuse.
TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, is believed to have over one billion users worldwide including more than 100 million in the United States and is especially popular with young smartphone users.
WeChat, part of the Chinese tech giant Tencent, is a massively popular super app that includes social networking, messaging, e-commerce and more.
The order is the latest move by the Biden administration to address challenges posed by China. Last week, Biden signed a separate order expanding a Trump-era ban on American investment in Chinese companies with alleged ties to China’s military.
The order laid out 59 companies barred from investment, including those that create and deploy surveillance technology used against Muslim minorities and government dissidents in Hong Kong.