The White House has dropped Trump-era executive orders that attempted to ban the popular apps TikTok and WeChat and will conduct its own review aimed at identifying national security risks with software applications tied to China, officials said Wednesday. A new executive order directs the Commerce Department to undertake what officials describe as an "evidence-based" analysis of transactions involving apps that are manufactured, supplied, or controlled by China. Officials are particularly concerned about apps that collect users' personal data or have connections to Chinese military or intelligence activities. What you need to know, per the AP:
- The administration earlier this year had backed off President Trump's attempts to ban the popular video app TikTok, asking a court to postpone a legal dispute while the Commerce Department reviewed whether Trump's claims about TikTok's threat to national security justified the attempts to ban it from smartphone app stores and deny it vital technical services. An update to the review was due in a court case later this week.
- Also in limbo has been a proposed US takeover of TikTok. Last year, the Trump administration brokered a deal that would have had US corporations Oracle and Walmart take a large stake in the Chinese-owned app on national security grounds. TikTok has been looking to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review Trump's divestment order and the government's national security review.
- The Commerce Department also will make recommendations on how to further protect Americans' genetic and personal health information, as well as address the risks of certain software apps connected to China or other adversaries, according to senior administration officials.
- Congress is also taking action to address Beijing's technological advancement. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that aims to boost US semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in the face of growing international competition.
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