The new decree ordered the Department of Commerce to initiate a "rigorous and evidence-based" analysis of applications that collect personal information from users and whose technology has ties to China.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday withdrew executive orders seeking to ban the popular social networks TikTok and WeChat in the country presented by his predecessor, Donald Trump (2017-2021), and instead urged to open an investigation to identify security risks linked to China.
A new executive order directs the Commerce Department to conduct an "evidence-based" analysis of transactions involving manufactured, supplied, or controlled applications by China. Officials are particularly concerned about apps that collect personal data from users or have connections to the Chinese military or intelligence activities.
According to senior federal government officials, the department will also make recommendations on how to further protect Americans' genetic and health information and address the risks of certain software applications connected to China or other adversaries.
Specifically, the U.S. government targets applications that are owned, controlled, or administered by individuals who support foreign military counterterrorism or intelligence activities, engage in illegal cyber activities or secure sensitive personal data.
The White House notes that some countries, including China, try to use digital technologies and U.S. data that pose unacceptable national security threats while aiding dictatorial interests and control.
These actions reflect an ongoing concern that Americans' data may be exposed by popular apps linked to China, a major economic and political rival of the United States. Both the White House and Congress have taken steps to address Beijing's technological advances.
Trump even demanded that the firm that owns TikTok, the Chinese ByteDance, sell its business in the country to U.S. companies. But the acquisition by the United States, which would have caused Oracle and Walmart to acquire a significant stake in that app, was left in limbo. Trump planned to ban the app in the United States unless he accepted a greater degree of American control.
Trump went against TikTok in the summer of 2020 over issues related to the use of data by U.S. users. The app has been seeking in the courts in the United States to review Trump's divestment order and the government's national security review. Trump's orders, from August 2020, remain blocked for the moment by court decisions.
Biden's decision comes on the same day that he will embark on his first international trip since arriving at the White House, which will take him to Britain's G7 summit, meet with his European partners in Brussels, and Russia's This will be his first meeting with his counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Shortly before boarding the plane, the president assured that his trip to Europe aimed to strengthen the alliance and make it clear to Russia and China that the United States.