Wednesday morning, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that will lead to increased scrutiny on apps that come from foreign adversaries. This executive order creates criteria for such apps–the most notable of which is the popular TikTok–to be judged on the security risk they present to the American people.
This comes on the heels of three executive orders signed by Trump last September, which tried to halt transactions involving Chinese apps like WeChat and TikTok, and even sought to ban TikTok altogether. TikTok remains popular in America, however, after a long court battle.
Biden agrees with his predecessor that we shouldn’t let apps that may be connected to adversarial militaries and intelligence groups go unmonitored; however, he is not seeking to ban them just yet. Instead, this new order provides a fact sheet that the Commerce Department can use to decide whether transactions involving an app pose an “unacceptable risk” to national security. (The word ‘transaction’ is used broadly here–even installing an app for free is considered a transaction under this definition.)
It remains to be seen what security measures will come of this decision.
Bottom Line: This heightening of security measures against Chinese software will doubtlessly strain America’s relationship with them, and it’s only getting started. On the home front, curtailing TikTok, among other popular apps, would cause cultural chaos among young people. Plus, it’s also possible that this order’s crackdown on gathering of sensitive personal information could be expanded to domestic apps in future, changing America’s entire digital landscape.