President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order reversing his predecessor’s move to ban Chinese smartphone applications including TikTok and WeChat.
Former President Donald Trump signed executive orders last year to ban the applications’ parent organizations from transacting with American companies due to concerns over surveillance and their connections to the Chinese government. The move effectively required them to sell the apps to Western companies to maintain a presence in the United States. Companies including Oracle and Microsoft briefly explored plans to purchase TikTok, though it quickly became clear that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, had no intention of relinquishing full control of the app.
Court challenges delayed Trump’s dictates from taking effect and allowed the companies to remain in the U.S. long enough for Biden to reverse the ban. However, the new order did not address deadlines set by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in the Trump era for ByteDance to divest from TikTok. “The CFIUS action remains under active discussion by the US government,” a senior administration official told The Verge on Wednesday.
Biden’s order also directed Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to oversee a broader investigation of applications with connections to foreign adversaries.
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