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President Biden Reviews Security Issues Against Chinese Apps WeChat-TikTok and Other Media Apps



President Joe Biden has lowered the temperature on whether to outlaw TikTok and other popular social media. This was a very heated topic with the prior President Trump administration.

“I have determined that additional consideration must be given in addressing the national emergency declared,” Biden wrote in a letter Wednesday to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi alongside the order.

President Biden signed an executive order directing federal officials to investigate the previous administrations  claims that China’s TikTok and WeChat pose a threat to American data security.

President Biden has appointed Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to study how foreign-owned tech companies are capturing and using U.S. data. That review in turn will project “recommendations to protect against harm from the unrestricted sale of, transfer of, or access to United States persons’ sensitive data,” according to President Joe Biden’s order. previously wrote- “Banning Americans from using the TikTok app would infringe the First Amendment rights of those users to express themselves online. Millions of users post protected speech to TikTok every day, choosing the app over other options for its features or for its audience. Courts will generally not uphold a categorical ban on speech. As the Supreme Court has recognized, to “foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.”

The Executive order states:

By operating on United States information and communications technology devices, including personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including United States persons’ personal information and proprietary business information.  This data collection threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information.  Foreign adversary access to large repositories of United States persons’ data also presents a significant risk.

Biden noted that “certain countries, including the People’s Republic of China, do not share these values and seek to leverage digital technologies and Americans’ data in ways that present unacceptable national security risks while advancing authoritarian controls and interests.”

In evaluating the risks of a connected software application, several factors should be considered.  Consistent with the criteria established in Executive Order 13873, and in addition to the criteria set forth in implementing regulations, potential indicators of risk relating to connected software applications include:  ownership, control, or management by persons that support a foreign adversary’s military, intelligence, or proliferation activities; use of the connected software application to conduct surveillance that enables espionage, including through a foreign adversary’s access to sensitive or confidential government or business information, or sensitive personal data; ownership, control, or management of connected software applications by persons subject to coercion or cooption by a foreign adversary; ownership, control, or management of connected software applications by persons involved in malicious cyber activities; a lack of thorough and reliable third-party auditing of connected software applications; the scope and sensitivity of the data collected; the number and sensitivity of the users of the connected software application; and the extent to which identified risks have been or can be addressed by independently verifiable measures.

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