President Biden on Wednesday moved to revoke former President Trump’s executive orders aimed at cracking down on TikTok and WeChat, popular China-based social media apps that the Trump administration feared were collecting U.S. users’ data and could be used to spy on Americans.
Mr. Trump’s Commerce Department pursued bans of the apps last year after Mr. Trump signed two executive orders in August aiming to bar transactions with WeChat and TikTok’s China-based owner ByteDance. Mr. Biden scrapped those orders on Wednesday and undid a January 2021 order from Mr. Trump prohibiting transactions of eight Chinese-connected software applications.
Mr. Biden is replacing Mr. Trump’s orders with new versions to create a “criteria-based decision framework” to analyze any risks posed by information and communications technology services involving foreign adversaries such as China, according to the White House.
The White House ordered agencies to evaluate software applications and transactions that may pose national security risks to the U.S. Mr. Biden also told the federal government to give his team recommendations on how to protect Americans’ personally identifiable information from foreign adversaries.
Prior to Mr. Trump’s executive orders, several federal agencies had banned TikTok from government devices, including the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. military.
The Trump administration‘s concern with TikTok and WeChat involved China’s moves to eliminate the barriers between the country’s commercial sector and its government. The companies’ ties to China raised concerns that the data collected through their apps would be learned by the Chinese government and that the government could use the companies’ products to monitor Americans.
TikTok declined to comment on Mr. Biden‘s order. TikTok and its China-based owner ByteDance previously argued against the Trump administration’s actions in federal court and pursued different business transactions to have TikTok reside in the U.S. in attempts to satisfy the Trump administration’s concerns about its China-based ownership.
Tencent, the Chinese company that owns social messaging app WeChat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.