Biden reverses Trump's U.S. "death penalty" on TikTok and WeChat while investigations still linger

Biden reverses Trump's U.S. "death penalty" on TikTok and WeChat while investigations still linger
Because of their ownership by two Chinese firms, last year ex-President Donald Trump and his administration tried to ban popular short form video app TikTok and social media, messaging, and mobile payment app WeChat from operating in the U.S. In addition, Trump issued a series of Executive Orders that attempted to block these apps from being listed in U.S. app stores. The affected companies filed lawsuits which blocked the administration's plans.

Today, The Verge reports that President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order of his own that reverses the bans ordered by Trump. However, Biden is demanding that the commerce secretary investigate apps owned by firms in foreign countries that could be considered a national security and privacy risk to the U.S. Trump's ban turned into an unsuccessful attempt by the administration to turn over ownership of TikTok in the U.S. to American companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Twitter and Walmart.

TikTok has become one of the most widely installed apps in the U.S. as its short form video format is popular among teens and pre-teens who use it to create lip syncs, prank videos and more. WeChat is a versatile app that handles various tasks. Developed by Tencent, a whopping 78% of people living in China aged 16-64 use the app. In the U.S., the app has 1.48 million monthly users.

The action taken by the president today does not put an end to an investigation of TikTok's Chinese based owner ByteDance by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Meanwhile, the Biden administration said that the original Executive Order signed by Trump was not carried out "in the soundest fashion," and that the new rules will examine privacy and security risks of apps located in certain countries (like China) by providing certain criteria that must be followed by apps from those countries that are available in the states. This prevents the U.S. from attempting to ban apps from specific regions without a legitimate reason for doing so.

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