Culture

Biden drops Trump's TikTok ban

Biden drops Trump's TikTok ban”

The update came on June 2 - a week before President Biden issued an executive order Wednesday dropping the Trump administration's order to block USA operations with TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps like WeChat. Instead, it directs the Commerce Department to evaluate all software applications with potential ties to foreign adversaries including China and take action to protect data on US citizens gathered by the apps.

The WeChat order threatened to take on its Chinese-based parent company Tencent, by banning financial transactions with the company.

The new executive order should lead to a framework for protecting Americans' data from China, rather than targeting specific companies, and could pressure Congress to enact a data-security law in the years ahead, said Paul Triolo, a tech policy expert at the Eurasia Group consultancy. For example, Chinese-owned TikTok quietly updated its privacy policy last week to enable the app to collect users' biometric data, including faceprints and voiceprints.

The order also "directs the Department of Commerce, in consultation with other USA departments and agencies, to make recommendations to protect against harm from the sale, transfer of, or access to sensitive personal data, including personally identifiable information and genetic information - to include large data repositories - to persons owned or controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of, foreign adversaries". The app allows users to send money to one another. Those companies have disputed those contentions.

TikTok also faces a separate government panel review handling global transactions.

Trump's measures have been blocked by federal judges, who said the former administration hadn't shown those apps in particular posed a national security threat justifying a ban. The court had determined the ban was "arbitrary and capricious" because the Trump administration failed "to adequately consider an obvious and reasonable alternative before banning TikTok".

The Biden administration's new executive order does not affect those negotiations, which are a separate process, according to a person familiar with the matter. Chinese companies coveting the US market will have to be better prepared for data compliance challenges.

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The virtual private network (VPN) company Surfshark labeled TikTok as the fourth-most "data-hungry social media app" behind Facebook, Facebook-owned Instagram and Linkedin. Numerous newly targeted companies are subsidiaries and affiliates of major state-owned companies and other businesses named on the earlier blacklist.

Also in limbo has been a proposed United States takeover of TikTok. Tuesday the Senate approved a $250 billion bill boosting government spending on technology research and development amid rising competition from China and other nations.

The original Trump administration order affecting TikTok and its owner ByteDance prohibited "any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd".

Mr. Biden departed Wednesday for his first overseas trip as president and will meet with European and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders as well as hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The new order also calls for a security review of the apps.

Notably, the Biden administration plans to seek more involvement of other friendly countries in its efforts to police data practices of apps based in potentially unfriendly countries.



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