Biden drops plan to ban TikTok, WeChat: White House

By: AFP      Published: 10:59 PM, 9 Jun, 2021
Biden drops plan to ban TikTok, WeChat: White House

President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked executive orders from his predecessor Donald Trump seeking to ban Chinese-owned mobile apps TikTok and WeChat over national security concerns, the White House said.

A White House statement said that instead of banning the popular apps, the Biden administration would carry out a "criteria-based decision framework and rigorous, evidence-based analysis to address the risks" from internet applications controlled by foreign entities.

Trump had claimed the Chinese-owned apps posed national security risks and had sought to force the sale of TikTok to US investors.

Biden's order seeks to identify any "connected software applications that may pose an unacceptable risk to US national security and the American people" including "applications that are owned, controlled, or managed by persons that support foreign adversary military or intelligence activities, or are involved in malicious cyber activities, or involve applications that collect sensitive personal data."

The new executive order calls for the Commerce Department and other federal agencies to develop guidelines "to protect sensitive personal data... including personally identifiable information and genetic information" from misuse.

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, is believed to have some one billion users worldwide including more than 100 million in the United States, and is especially popular with young smartphone users.

WeChat, part of the Chinese tech giant Tencent, is a massively popular "super app" which includes social networking, messaging, e-commerce and more.