Feds rescind prohibited transactions list for TikTok and WeChat

Trump administration sought to block US downloads of the Chinese-owned apps

The federal government is rescinding a list of prohibited transactions with Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat that date back to the Trump administration’s attempt to block Americans from downloading the apps.

The move comes after president Joe Biden revoked the previous administration’s executive order banning the apps from the US.

Under Trump, the Commerce Department sought to ban transactions, including downloading, updating, or providing hosting services for the apps. Those bans stalled in court as they would have drastically reduced the apps’ usability and functionality in the US if they had gone ahead as planned.

The Commerce Department reversed its position on Monday, according to Reuters.

Although Biden revoked Trump’s order banning TikTok and WeChat, the Chinese-owned apps aren't out of the woods yet. President Biden replaced the Trump executive order with a new one instructing the commerce secretary to look into apps with alleged ties to the Chinese government and determine if they pose a risk to Americans' data or national security.

Biden also ordered the Commerce Department and other federal agencies to develop ways to prevent the collection, sale, and transfer of sensitive US consumer data to foreign adversaries. The Commerce Department will then recommend new executive orders or legislation to prevent foreign adversaries from getting ahold of US consumers’ data.

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A separate US national security review of TikTok remains active, as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is still investigating the app.

The CFIUS has demanded that TikTok’s owner, Bytedance, divest from the app’s US operations. It has set multiple deadlines for this divestment, which led to Oracle agreeing to purchase TikTok’s US operation, but the sale never went through.

Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok and WeChat was in response to concerns the apps were collecting data on US users and Chinese visitors to the US. The apps repeatedly insisted they did not share user information with the Chinese government.

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