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June 18, 2021

Chinese-owned apps like TikTok and WeChat may face subpoenas and bans under President Joe Biden’s June 9 executive order—which reversed Trump’s ban on the two apps while calling for a more sweeping review of foreign-controlled apps—if they fail to take measures to protect the personal data of U.S. users, Reuters reported citing sources, implying that the ban reversal does not fully take TikTok and WeChat off the hook.


According to Reuters, the order would force some Chinese apps to take tougher measures to protect users’ private information if they want to continue to operate in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Commerce may issue subpoenas to collect information about the apps, the report adds, citing unnamed sources.

The Commerce Department may either outline conditions the apps have to follow to continue operating in the U.S. or ban the apps outright.

U.S. officials are also reportedly talking to allied countries to take a similar approach and are hoping that they can all agree on which apps should be banned.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will determine which apps will be targeted but key criteria could be apps that are “owned, controlled or managed by a person or entity that supports the military or intelligence activities” of an adversary like China or Russia, the report adds.

According to Reuters, apps that could fall in the crosshairs include those targeted by the Trump administration including TikTok, WeChat, Alipay, WeChat Pay, UC Web, Tencent QQ and others.

Earlier this month, Biden issued an executive order that rescinded the Trump administration’s ban TikTok and WeChat, which had already been halted by U.S. courts. The new order called for a more sweeping review of security concerns posed by foreign-controlled apps. The new order called on the Commerce Department and other agencies to “evaluate foreign adversary connected software applications” and to establish criteria to protect against future threats presented by foreign-owned apps. Unlike the Trump administration’s efforts, the new order does not target specific apps, but it could end up impacting more apps and may hold up better if challenged in court. While Biden’s June 9 order rescinded one of Trump’s orders banning WeChat and TikTok it allowed another one, that investigates Beijing-based ByteDance’s acquisition of TikTok’s predecessor Musical.ly, to remain in place. This will allow the Treasury Department and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to continue investigating the 2017 acquisition, which allowed TikTok to gain a foothold in the U.S. market.

Source: Forbes
Image Source: Getty Images