President Biden revokes Trumps attempted ban of TikTok

President Joe Biden has reversed executive orders from former President Donald Trump that tried to ban the popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok. Mr. Biden replaced the failed ban with a new executive order calling for a government review of foreign-owned apps, and whether they pose any security risks.

The White House said in a statement that it is “committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet” and “protecting human rights online and offline.”

The statement singled out China as an example of a country that does “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.”

Chinese companies are required under the country’s law to share data with the ruling Chinese Communist Party. TikTok has said that its data on U.S. users is stored in the U.S., with backups in Singapore, and not shared with the Chinese government. 

CBS News has reached out to TikTok for comment.

Mr. Trump issued orders last summer that would have banned TikTok from operating within in the U.S. unless it was sold to an American company within a matter of weeks. He said TikTok was a potential security and privacy threat because it is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The Trump administration cited concerns that China could be using the app to collect data on American users, including government workers.

But the attempted ban was immediately challenged in court, and negotiations with U.S. buyers — including Microsoft and Oracle — broke down without a deal. Mr. Trump’s orders never ultimately never pushed TikTok out of the U.S.

Mr. Trump had also issued orders targeting other popular Chinese apps, including messaging platform WeChat. Those orders, too, were revoked by Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden’s new orders direct the Commerce Department to review apps tied to foreign adversaries and determine what should be considered an “unacceptable risk.” The White House says apps that collect sensitive personal data or are tied to foreign military or intelligence services would involve a “heightened risk.”

Mr. Biden said before taking office that TikTok is “a matter of genuine concern,” but his administration did not continue attempts to ban the app or force a sale. The new orders also ask the Commerce Department to propose legislation or new executive actions that could address risks from foreign-owned apps.

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