United States President Joe Biden Thursday repealed a Trump-era attempt to restrict WeChat and TikTok, but scrutiny of the China-owned apps will continue under the Biden administration.
The new mandate replaces Trump's executive orders with a new directive addressing apps and software with potential connections to countries such as China. Specifically, it creates the potential for a more extensive crackdown on Chinese-owned apps, reports say.
The move marks a reset in relations between Washington and WeChat, the popular messaging app run by Shenzhen-based Tencent, and TikTok, the hit video-sharing app owned by Beijing-headquartered ByteDance.
TikTok and WeChat did not respond to a request for comment.
Thursday's order directs the U.S. Department of Commerce to carry out what officials describe as "evidence-based" evaluation of transactions to assess potential national security risks associated with apps that are developed or controlled by China.
Washington officials are particularly concerned about apps that collect users' personal information or have links to China's intelligence or military activities, The Wall Street Journal said.
The order also underscores how the Biden administration shares many of the same national security concerns as the Trump administration with regards Chinese-made software and mobile apps, even as Biden revokes the specific directive that targets individual companies.
"President Biden is right to revoke these Trump administration executive orders, which blatantly violated the First Amendment rights of WeChat and TikTok users in the U.S.," Ashley Gorski, a senior staff lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said, according to NPR.
Biden also nullified a Trump order from January that had barred transactions with electronic wallets WeChat Pay and Alipay and six lesser-known apps from China over unspecified data security concerns, The Associated Press said.