President Biden issued an executive order titled: “Executive Order on Protecting Americans’ Sensitive Data from Foreign Adversaries”. It revokes one of Trump’s executive orders banning TikTok and WeChat. That order was never carried out.
In September of 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a prohibition on transactions relating to mobile apps WeChat and TikTok. In October of 2020, three popular TikTok creators filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce. U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted a preliminary injunction, which caused the Department of Commerce to be enjoined from forcing the prohibition on TikTok.
The Verge reported that President Biden’s executive order revokes the Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat. The order calls for the Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, to investigate apps with ties to foreign adversaries that may pose a risk to American data privacy or national security.
It also calls on other federal agencies to work together to craft recommendations to protect against the collection, sale, and transfer of sensitive US consumer data to foreign adversaries. According to The Verge, the Commerce Department is expected to also make recommendations for future executive orders or legislation to address these concerns.
The Trump order had not been carried out “in the soundest fashion”, according to CNN, who posted about Biden administration officials call with reporters. The officials stated that the new directive would establish “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate national security risks posed by software applications connected to foreign governments, particularly China.
Overall, it seems to me that the executive order is intended to prevent foreign adversaries from collecting the data of Americans. That sounds like a good thing. The order also means that TikTok and WeChat are likely to be investigated in order to determine if they should be banned.