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White House Drop Trump’s Orders to Ban TikTok and WeChat

White House Drop Trump's Orders to Ban TikTok and WeChat
New Indian Express

The Biden administration on late Wednesday revoked a few executive orders passed during Trump’s time. The White House mainly withdrew the orders targeted to ban social applications, TikTok and WeChat. The administration issued an executive order directing the Commerce Department to review the national security risks possessed by these apps.

Trump takes action to ban TikTok and WeChat

Former President, Donald Trump sought ways to ban further use of TikTok and WeChat in the summer of 2020. You can take a look at the list of controversial things Donald Trump has ever said.

Trump issued an order to shut down new downloads of these apps that originated from China. The order to ban was based on protecting the personal data collected by the apps that could be accessed by the Chinese intelligence or military. In response, the officials of the video app, TikTok claimed it has about 50 million daily active users by 2020. WeChat offered payment and chat services to millions of users. Officials from both companies said the ban would significantly disrupt the usage of these apps in the US.

Furthermore, TikTok owners took the issue to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The order was temporarily blocked and never came into effect. The case even reached the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

With the nearing presidential election, the focus shifted from the ban and it settled without further proceedings. However, it has been reported that the government is still investigating the apps and their transactions and their ties with the Chinese military.

Biden’s administration executes an order to revoke the ban

Biden addressing the pandemic issues and Tiktok ban issues in a conference in January
Getty Images

Amidst all the ongoing investigations, Biden issued a new executive order associated with the ban attempts. Besides TikTok and WeChat, the order revokes the potential bans on eight other applications and payment platforms. This includes Tencent QQ, CamScanner, SHAREit, VMate, WPS Office, Alipay, QQ Wallet, and WeChat Pay.

Under the new order, Commerce Department will assess and review the potential risks associated with such technological platforms and applications that may hold user data. The inspection will focus on identifying the connections between these applications and the Chinese government. Moreover, the research will conclude whether the Personal Information of these application users can be accessed and utilized by the adversaries for their benefits or not.

To assist Commerce Department, the order demands threats and vulnerability reports of the applications from US intelligence and Homeland Security agencies.  The authorities need to hand over the pieces of evidence within 60 days to the Department.

The Department is tasked to come out with recommendations for the protection of US digital data accessible by foreign companies within 120 days. Moreover, the analysis requires in prioritization of Chinese apps with China being a political and economical rival to the U.S.

Responses towards the order

Gao Feng, spokesperson at the Chines Commerce Ministry saw Biden’s step as a sign of a progressive step towards fair treatment of the Chinese companies. He further said he is hoping “The US will avoid politicizing trade and economic issues”.  TikTok and WeChat made no public comments on the order.

While Senator Hawley criticized the revoking of the ban order as a major mistake. He warned of the alarming influence of Chinese Corporations and their access to the data of the American people.

Biden also signed bills for promoting major technological sectors of Artificial Intelligence after the evaluation of international competitions like Beijing. Likewise, the government executed another order to ban the U.S. investment in Chinese companies associated with surveillance and defense technology.

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