President Joe Biden’s executive order to protect Americans’ sensitive data could force some Chinese apps to take tougher measures to protect private information if they want to survive in the US market.
The goal is to prevent foreign adversaries such as China and Russia from gaining access to large amounts of personal and private business information.
The US Department of Commerce may issue memos to collect information about some software applications for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers, according to Reuters.
AndBiden’s June 9 order resolved Replace former President Donald Trump’s 2020 decisions against popular Chinese apps WeChat, owned by Tencent, and TikTok, a subsidiary of ByteDance. US courts suspended the ban.
US officials share many of the concerns Trump mentioned in his order to ban TikTok.
Notably, they fear that China could track the locations of US government employees, create files of personal information for extortion, and conduct corporate espionage.
Although the new order does not name the companies, it could punish more applications of Trump’s ban and hold out better if challenged in court.
A source said US officials have begun talking to allies about adopting a similar approach. They hope that partner countries will agree on which apps should be blocked.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo decides which apps the US targets, but they must meet certain criteria.
For example, it must be owned, controlled, or operated by a person or entity that supports the military or intelligence activities of a foreign adversary such as China or Russia.
If Raimondo determines that an application presents an unacceptable risk, Raimondo has the discretion to notify the parties directly or publish the information in the government’s official daily bulletin, the Commerce Department spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added: Companies will have 30 days to object or propose measures to better secure the data.
The process stems from Trump’s May 2019 executive order to review information and communications technology from foreign adversaries.
Chinese apps are likely to find themselves in the Commerce Department’s crosshairs, given the escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing. In addition to the ability of the Chinese government to impose its control over companies and the number of Chinese applications used by Americans.
Reuters said: TikTok, WeChat and eight other apps targeted by the Trump administration in its final months are eligible for review by Biden’s team.
Trump’s targets also included Alipay, WeChat Pay, QQ Wallet, Tencent QQ, CamScanner, SHAREit, VMate, UCWeb and WPS Office.
Some applications have serious data protection issues. The order applies to business applications, including those used in banking and telecommunications, as well as consumer applications.
Apps linked to other adversaries such as Iran or Venezuela are banned under broader sanctions.