It was front page news when the Trump administration signed an Executive Order on September of 2020 banning several Chinese operated apps, including Alipay, WeChat and Tik Tok.
The argument of the Commerce Department was that those apps accessed the data of many millions of Americans, and the US Government has concerns about the Chinese government being able to access that personal information.
Those popular apps were used by more than 100 million users in the United States alone.
WeChat is a very popular app with Chinese who live outside of China, including America. Even though WeChat is a chat app, it is also used as an source of news and also a popular method of payment.
The Biden administration
The Biden administration revoked and replaced the Executive Order with one that prevented those apps from using US app stores for its distribution.
The Biden Administration also made it clear that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS will continue to review not just the cases of those 3 companies, but also additional Executive Orders that add 59 companies to a US ban for American companies or individuals from investing in Chinese companies with apparent ties to the Chinese Military or deploy intrusive technology to spy on dissidents or racial or religious minorities.
The move from the Biden Administration does not get Tik Tok or WeChat fully out of their legal or regulatory problems but instead calls for the Commerce Department sets out guidelines on the collection, sale, and transfer of sensitive US consumer data to foreign countries deemed as adversaries. It is expected that the Commerce Department will issue new recommendations for new Executive Orders for the White House soon.
In the meantime, the apps might be back in business in the United States, but they are not without challenges on how the new national security framework regarding US consumer sensitive data will apply to them.