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Biden revokes Trump’s TikTok ban but broadens Chinese app review
A Trump era ban on TikTok has gone but further US reviews of Chinese apps are coming. Image: Reuters.

President Biden is revoking bans issued by Trump on TikTok and WeChat but broadening a review of software apps from China

(AF) Biden issued an executive order on Wednesday June 9 instructing Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to evaluate software apps and block ones that could pose a security risk. His instruction replaces previous executive orders from his predecessor Trump that were targeted at specific Chinese companies, including TikTok owner ByteDance and WeChat owner Tencent Holdings.

The Trump orders were repeatedly blocked by US federal judges who ruled that national security threats had not been demonstrated in ways that would justify the bans.

An attempt by the Trump administration to force a sale of TikTok’s US business to US firms such as Oracle and Walmart also failed. 

The White House on Wednesday acknowledged that the Trump era orders had become mired in litigation.

“In their place, this (order) directs the use of a criteria-based decision framework and rigorous, evidence-based analysis to address the risks posed by.. transactions involving software applications that are designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons that are owned or controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary, including the People’s Republic of China, that may present an undue or unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States and the American people,” the White House statement said.

The current administration stressed that the goal of combatting a perceived Chinese security threat from software apps remained the same.

“The Biden 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, the White House statement said.

The move to replace Trump’s executive orders with a more robust framework that will limit what the US feels is a security threat from software apps came as Biden was setting off for a European trip in which is he expected to try to rally America’s allies in a coordinated reaction to China and Russia.

Biden will attend the G7 summit in the UK, then have meetings with NATO and the European Union before finishing his tour in Geneva where he will hold his first meeting as president with Russia’s Putin.

Surveillance technology developed in China that is now being used in certain Eastern European countries such as Serbia is also increasingly viewed by the US as a potential threat and could be among items discussed as Biden meets American allies. 

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