For the latter half of his term, President Donald Trump tried to ban downloads of the Chinese-operated app, TikTok, in the United States. After last year’s exchange of power, new President Joe Biden recently reversed a trio of Trump-era executive orders that targeted TikTok and WeChat. But he and the rest of the federal government are not fully letting the apps off the hook.
In place of Trump’s orders, Biden signed an order that will instruct the Commerce Department to conduct security reviews of apps that may be operating under a “foreign adversary.” Given the current relationship between the two countries, that terminology may certainly pertain to apps with connections to China, such as TikTok and WeChat. However, it opens the door for investigations into apps from other countries that could pose a security risk.
“The Federal Government should evaluate these threats through rigorous, evidence-based analysis and should address any unacceptable or undue risks consistent with overall national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives,” Biden’s order states, “including the preservation and demonstration of America’s core values and fundamental freedoms.”
Moving forward from the TikTok ban
There have been concerns about TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government for a while now. In the past, the DOJ investigated the app’s ties to China and found it was acting as a mouthpiece for the country.
The Trump administration tried various ways to crack down on TikTok. In Fall 2020, Trump signed orders that threatened to ban all TikTok downloads in the US. Later on, the Trump Administration tried to reach a deal with TikTok. Trump would allow TikTok downloads in the United States if it sold all of its assets to an American company. However, Trump’s attempts to moderate the app fell through.
Nevertheless, both administrations seem to be wary of TikTok and its ties to the Chinese government. While the Biden Administration’s recent actions have officially ended the squabble between TikTok and the federal government for the time being, it does set the framework for apps with connections to foreign entities to face scrutiny in the future. Once again, TikTok is safe for now. With that said, we’ll have to keep a close eye on what potential security reviews under the guidelines of Biden’s new executive order could reveal.