President Biden signed an executive order Thursday that reverses Trump’s attempts to force TikTok’s developer ByteDance to sell the wildly popular app to American companies. But Biden doesn’t take the pressure off it and other Chinese-made apps. He’s just no longer singling out TikTok.
Trump vs. TikTok
When in office, President Donald Trump declared that the TikTok video-sharing service posed a security risk. The Trump administration was concerned that data collected about American users would end up in the hands of the Chinese government.
The president moved to ban the software, but was blocked by U.S. courts. And he was working to force ByteDance to sell the app to a group of U.S. buyers, including Walmart and Oracle. But this policy changed somewhat when Trump was voted out of office in November.
Biden takes somewhat different course
Thursday, Biden signed the Executive Order on Protecting Americans’ Sensitive Data from Foreign Adversaries. This states that software used by Americans and developed by a “foreign adversary” threatens U.S. national security. And it specifically lists the People’s Republic of China as one of those adversaries.
The president’s executive order requires the U.S. government to “evaluate these threats through rigorous, evidence-based analysis and should address any unacceptable or undue risks consistent with overall national security.”
A primary difference between Biden’s and Trump’s approach is that the current administration doesn’t specifically call out TikTok. But the app could come under fire from the current administration if it’s found to be supporting China’s military or being used for surveillance or espionage. Just collecting large amounts of data about Americans could be enough to get the app in trouble with the Biden administration.