President Biden officially revoked Donald Trump’s orders last year that sought to ban TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps, over supposed national security concerns.
On Wednesday, the White House announced that Biden signed an executive order revoking then-President Trump’s August 2020 order instructing Chinese internet giant ByteDance to sell TikTok to U.S. entities under the threat of TikTok’s shutdown in the U.S., and another targeting WeChat that barred any U.S. entities from conducting business with the Tencent-owned app.
At the same time, Biden’s “Executive Order on Protecting Americans’ Sensitive Data from Foreign Adversaries,” instructs Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to investigate apps with ties to foreign adversaries that may pose a risk to U.S. data privacy or national security.
“The Federal Government should evaluate these threats through rigorous, evidence-based analysis and should address any unacceptable or undue risks consistent with overall national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives, including the preservation and demonstration of America’s core values and fundamental freedoms,” Biden’s executive order says.
In the wake of Trump’s order last year, ByteDance had reached a tentative deal with Oracle and Walmart, which under the proposed terms would acquire a combined 20% stake in TikTok. That deal now appears all but dead. In February, the Biden administration’s Justice Department requested that TikTok’s litigation against the U.S. government over the Trump divestiture order be put on hold.
Federal judges have ruled that Trump overstepped his authority in ordering TikTok to shut down, finding the administration’s hypothetical concerns about TikTok’s security risks unconvincing, and also ruled against the WeChat ban on First Amendment grounds.
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