OMB and agencies to enforce executive order undoing TikTok ban

The White House on Dec. 1, 2018, with the flag at half staff in honor of the late President George H.W. Bush. (White House / Flickr)

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The Office of Management and Budget and federal agencies will be responsible for enforcing an executive order issued Wednesday that will revoke Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat.

According to the order, agencies must rescind the requirements and abolish the positions, committees and task forces created by three Trump administration executive orders pertaining to software developed by Chinese companies.

The executive order represents the Biden administration’s move to develop its own framework for assessing threats posed by software connected to foreign adversaries like China, which can be used to collect “vast swaths of information” from the personal electronic devices of users.

“The ongoing emergency … arises from a variety of factors, including the continuing effort of foreign adversaries to steal or otherwise obtain United States persons’ data,” reads the order.  “That continuing effort by foreign adversaries constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

In order to develop its own threat-assessment framework, the order gives national security agencies and others the Department of Commerce deems relevant 120 days to provide the White House with recommendations on protecting against the access, sale and transfer of citizens’ personally identifiable, health and genetic information.

As agencies evaluate the risks of software applications, the executive order requires that they consider factors about the owners and operators including connections to foreign militaries, and the potential use of the technology for spying.

Federal departments must also take into account the scope and sensitivity of the data they collect, and also the use of reliable third-party auditing.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security have 60 days to supply the Commerce Department with threat and vulnerability assessments relating to these factors.

The Department of Commerce has 180 days to provide the White House with a report on executive and legislative actions it can take to address the risks identified by agencies. It is also expected to continually evaluate transactions via apps for risks of sabotage and to critical infrastructure, the digital economy and national security.

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Department of Commerce (DOC), Office of Management, TikTok, White House
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