Biden takes another step to discard Trump-era Chinese social media app ban

Seeks end to TikTok ban appeal, but this by no means ends US/China worries about citizen data


The Biden administration has tried to reverse the Trump administration’s bans on Chinese social media apps.

Citing national security concerns, the Trump administration sought to ban Chinese-owned video apps including ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat. Court rulings struck down the bans and the Trump Administration appealed.

Last month the White House revoked Trump-era executive orders banning social media apps, but the court cases are still in progress.

Now the Biden Administration has asked two Federal appeals courts to dismiss the appeals initiated by the Trump administration.

All parties seems to agree dismissing the appeals is a good idea, with the Justice Department calling the appeal “moot” in light of the executive order revocation. The Department has therefore asked the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Third Circuit to dismiss the appeal.

While the Biden administration cancelled the bans, it did seek to expand another Trump-era Executive Order, called Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain, a supply chain security initiative that calls for technology to undergo evidence-based vetting.

That expansion reflects US policymakers’ concerns that Chinese apps could give the Middle Kingdom access to vast amounts of American citizens’ personal data.

China also fears the US gaining power through data.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that ByteDance’s planned overseas IPO is indefinitely delayed, the root cause of which is Beijing’s concerns the tech company presented data-related risks.

The Journal reported that ByteDance met with Chinese cyberspace and securities regulators to discuss the concerns around March, when company founder Zhang Yiming decided to stall a public offering in the USA or Hong Kong.

Chinese ride hailing app Didi Chuxing did not heed similar warnings, and saw its app booted from Chinese app stores five days after a US IPO, causing its share price to fall sharply.

Last week, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced it will continue to review apps whose developers have recently floated in the USA, and yesterday revealed a compulsory security audit for companies with more than one million registered users that plan to list overseas. ®

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