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Biden Considering New Regulations on Foreign-Owned Apps Like TikTok

Department of Commerce is currently reviewing public comments about the proposed rule

It turns out Joe Biden and Donald Trump have at least one thing in common besides being President: Not trusting TikTok. The Biden administration is considering a new set of regulations against apps owned by “foreign adversaries” that could ultimate cause problems for popular products like TikTok.

The new rule — “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain; Connected Software Applications” — was proposed by the Commerce Department last November. The department is now reviewing public comments about the proposed rule (the public commentary period ended in December).

According to Commerce, the rule is intended to comply with Joe Biden’s June, 2021 executive order, (itself a continuation of a 2019 Donald Trump executive order), concerning the proliferation of apps and software owned and operated by Chinese companies. Both executive orders expressed concerns about, among other things, collection of personal information that could be used harmfully by “foreign adversaries.”

If enacted, the rules “would amend the Supply Chain Rule to provide for additional criteria that the Secretary of Commerce (the Secretary) may consider specifically when determining whether ICTS Transactions (as defined in the Supply Chain Rule) that involve connected software applications present an undue or unacceptable risk.”

It would also change the definition of ICTS — Information and Communications Technology and Services — to include “connected software applications.” Therefore such apps, like TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, could be audited to ensure their data collection complies with U.S. law.

“The Biden administration believes certain countries, including the People’s Republic of China (PRC), seek to leverage digital technologies and Americans’ data in ways that present unacceptable national security risks while advancing authoritarian controls and interests,” National Security Council spokesperson Saloni Sharma said in a statement provided to The Washington Post.

The Commerce Department has not announced a timeline for when, if at all, the new rule could be approved.

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