Biden revokes Trump’s unenforced Chinese app bans
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday aimed at protecting Americans’ sensitive data from foreign adversaries, which effectively revokes several actions his predecessor took to address threats posed by using web services from countries like China.
The new action will overturn three executive orders former President Donald Trump issued against Chinese social media apps like Tik Tok and WeChat. Those previous orders, which never took effect because of legal challenges, sought to ban the use of the popular apps in the U.S.
The order also establishes new timelines for agencies to assess “the risk associated with connected software applications” owned or operated by foreign adversaries, and specifically mentions China as one of several adversaries which “continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.”
In addition, the White House is requesting recommendations from Cabinet leaders within four months to “protect against harm from the unrestricted sale of, transfer of, or access to United States persons’ sensitive data, including personally identifiable information, personal health information, and genetic information.”
During the final months of his tenure in the Oval Office, Trump claimed the use of apps like Tik Tok and WeChat gave China potential data collection capabilities which threatened to provide Beijing with access to Americans’ sensitive personal information. He then demanded the American government receive a cut of the sales if Tik Tok’s parent company were to sell off its U.S. assets to Microsoft. The former president also prohibited transactions associated with Chinese payment apps like Alipay.
Much of the enforcement for Trump’s executive orders was left up to the new administration, which has pushed tough stances on China around data collection, malicious cyber activity and intellectual property.
The White House order also addresses human rights in its latest action, stating that consequences may be imposed on any person or entity who owns or operates connected software applications and engages in human rights abuses.
Chris Riotta is a staff writer at FCW covering government procurement and technology policy. Chris joined FCW after covering U.S. politics for three years at The Independent. He earned his master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president.