As detailed in a court filing this week, the Biden Administration does not plan to enforce President Trump’s ban on the Chinese-made app TikTok.
Trump announced the ban last September after attempting to force the company to sell its US operations. Walmart and Oracle engaged in negotiations with TikTok owner ByteDance to purchase the app’s US business, but a final agreement was never reached.
TikTok is a video-sharing app that came to the United States in 2017. It has been downloaded more than 110 million times in the US, mostly by teens and young adults.
TikTok came under fire last year when users noticed an absence of videos relating to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the persecution of Uighur Muslims in China.
Considering the scale of these events and the popularity of TikTok, there was simply no explanation for this absence of content.
The Trump Administration immediately recognized TikTok’s attempt to bring Chinese-style censorship to American teenagers and took action to stop downloads.
TikTok’s “data collection threatens to allow the CCP access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information – potentially allowing China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” reads Trump’s executive order.
Trump’s case against TikTok is still pending in federal courts, but Biden is expected to remove the case entirely.
“A review of the prohibitions at issue here may narrow the issues presented or eliminate the need for this Court’s review entirely,” wrote Justice Department lawyer Casen Ross. “[The Biden Administration] plans to conduct an evaluation of the underlying record justifying those prohibitions.”
In the meantime, TikTok is said to be cooperating with the federal agency responsible for reviewing companies with overseas ownership as questions about TikTok’s relationship with Beijing is investigated.
TikTok claims that its US data is stored in the US and can’t be accessed by China, though its terms of service suggest TikTok can share user data with ByteDance. TikTok insists it has never been asked by Beijing to share information about American users and that it would deny any request to do so.