U.S. Commerce Division rescinds TikTok, WeChat prohibited transactions record

WASHINGTON, June 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Monday that it is lifting a list of prohibited TikTok and WeChat transactions issued in September when the Trump administration attempted new U.S. downloads from both Chinese Block apps.

The withdrawals came after President Joe Biden withdrew a number of Trump-era executive orders earlier this month to ban new downloads from WeChat (0700.HK) and TikTok owned by Tencent, and conducted a security review the Department of Commerce had ordered apps and others.

The Trump Department of Commerce had also tried to ban other transactions that would have effectively banned the use of WeChat in the United States, and later sought similar restrictions that would have prevented the use of TikTok.

The department did not respond immediately.

Biden’s order directed the Department of Commerce to monitor software applications such as TikTok that could compromise US national security, as well as make recommendations within 120 days to protect US data acquired by companies or accessed by foreign adversaries to be controlled.

In this illustration image from September 19, 2020, a reflection of the US flag can be seen on the signs of the WeChat and TikTok apps. REUTERS / Florence Lo / Illustration

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WeChat, which has been downloaded at least 19 million times by US users, is widely used as a medium for services, games, and payments.

Biden’s Executive Order is revoking the WeChat and TikTok orders Trump placed in August, along with another one in January that targeted eight more communications and financial technology software applications.

The January Trump order directed officials to ban transactions using eight Chinese apps, including Ant Group’s Alipay (688688.SS) and Tencent’s QQ Wallet and WeChat. So far, no bans have been issued.

The Trump administration had appealed against court orders blocking the bans on TikTok and WeChat, but after Biden took office in January, the US Department of Justice asked to suspend the appeals.

A separate US security clearance from TikTok, which started in late 2019, remains active.

Reporting by David Shepardson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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