Donald Trump-era ban on TikTok dropped by Joe Biden

Carla Harmon
June 9, 2021

Replacing his predecessor's executive orders, Biden directed the commerce secretary to investigate apps with ties to foreign adversaries of the United States that might pose a national security risk or compromise the data privacy of American citizens.

As per the order, criteria for apps that could pose a heightened risk include when "transactions involve 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". In the case of TikTok, Mr. Trump had sought to shut down the app in the US if the company wasn't put under control of USA owners.

The administration of former President Donald Trump had attempted to block new users from downloading the apps and ban other technical transactions that Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat both said would effectively block the apps' use in the United States.

The department also will make recommendations on how to further protect Americans' genetic and personal health information, and will address the risks of certain software apps connected to China or other adversaries, according to senior administration officials.


Unnamed Biden administration officials told the Wall Street Journal that the latest executive order is created to replace Trump's orders with a more comprehensive process targeting apps that may have connections to foreign adversaries, including the CCP.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, Tencent and ByteDance could not be immediately reached for comment.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) framed the White House action as a retreat, however, tweeting Wednesday: "This is a major mistake - shows alarming complacency regarding #China's access to Americans' personal information, as well as #China's growing corporate influence". Courts temporarily blocked the White House's attempted ban, and the presidential election soon overshadowed the TikTok fight.

Courts had blocked the Trump administration's efforts to ban TikTok and WeChat, which began in summer 2020, but a national-security review of TikTok by a government group called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, is ongoing.


TikTok quietly changed its U.S.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that aims to boost US semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in the face of growing global competition.

The announcement highlights how the Biden administration shares numerous same national security concerns as the Trump administration regarding Chinese-made mobile apps, even as Biden withdraws the specific orders targeting individual companies.

US officials have maintained that TikTok, WeChat and other Chinese-owned apps collect data that could be shared with China's authoritarian government. Status reports are due in the appeals cases on Friday. It added that TikTok's service did not contact any servers within China, but it was still theoretically possible that servers outside China could later transfer user data to China-based servers.


Trump's administration had worked to ban TikTok and force its Chinese owned company, ByteDance, to sell the app.

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