June 9, 2021
President Biden June 9 signed an executive order effectively ending the former Trump Administration’s efforts to force a sale of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to American business interests.
The order ends the former administration’s war on the WeChat app, a multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Chinese media giant Tencent. The Trump administration had sought the ban in the United States, citing national security risks.
Biden’s order stipulates that the Commerce Department is now tasked with determining the potential security risks associated with software owned and operated by foreign adversaries, among other responsibilities.
“I have determined that additional consideration must be given in addressing the national emergency declared in [Trump’s] Executive Order 13873 of May 15, 2019, including the threat posed by certain connected software applications designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary,” Biden wrote in a letter to Congress explaining his executive order.
Trump last August issued an executive order mandating the ban unless TikTok sold its U.S. operations. An acquisition deal involving chip maker Oracle and Walmart for 20% in a newly configured ByteDance parent remains in the works, but has not been finalized.
A federal judge last September issued a preliminary injunction stopping Trump’s proposed ban that would have effectively stopped 100 million Americans who use TikTok for social messaging and commercial influencing.
The move wasn’t unprecedented considering China blocks its citizens from using American apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.
Regardless, the political posturing between the U.S. and China over TikTok saw its CEO Kevin Mayer, the former Disney executive who help launch Disney+, exit the company. Mayer was also COO of TikTok parent ByteDance.
In March, Mayer was named chairman of the DAZN sports-themed subscription streaming service.