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Biden revokes Trump order banning Chinese apps TikTok, WeChat

TikTok (Solen Feyissa, Flickr/Released)
June 09, 2021

President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order Wednesday revoking former President Donald Trump’s order which sought to ban TikTok and WeChat in the United States.

In his order, President Biden acknowledged that data collection by a “foreign adversary…defined to include the People’s Republic of China” through apps on personal electronic devices like smartphones and tablets “presents a significant risk,” but threats should be evaluated through “evidence-based analysis.”

“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 order states.

The president’s order revokes and replaces Executive Orders 13942, 13943, and 13971and directs the Department of Commerce to evaluate “foreign adversary connected software applications” and to “take action, as appropriate.”

“Additionally, the United States seeks to promote accountability for persons who engage in serious human rights abuse,” the order continued. “If persons who own, control, or manage connected software applications engage in serious human rights abuse or otherwise facilitate such abuse, the United States may impose consequences on those persons in action separate from this order.”

Last year, then-President Trump issued several Executive Orders to ban the Chinese apps in the United States. In September, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced transactions on the apps would be banned, including, “Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S.”

According to a statement from White House addressing Biden’s latest order, the administration “is committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet; protecting human rights online and offline; and supporting a vibrant, global digital economy.”

“Certain countries, including the People’s Republic of China (PRC), do not share these values and seek to leverage digital technologies and Americans’ data in ways that present unacceptable national security risks while advancing authoritarian controls and interests,” it continued.

In April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed that cartels at the U.S.-Mexico border are using social media apps like TikTok to recruit help to smuggle people into the United States.

“A concern that we have is how brazen and open the drug cartels are getting in trying to recruit people here in the state of Texas to assist them in these crimes,” Abbott said.

“These are two pictures from TikTok and these are ads or videos, things that are being run by cartels on TikTok, trying to recruit people in Texas to assist them commit their crimes, with the promise of money as well as other things,” Abbott continued. “And it’s rare, I’m told, to see the cartels operate that openly, so that it could be seen by law enforcement.”