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Biden administration reviewing app security recommendations

The Biden administration is holding talks among federal agencies about the security of Americans’ data and whether the U.S. government has adequate tools.

In June, President Joe Biden withdrew a series of Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of Chinese-owned WeChat and TikTok and ordered a Commerce Department review of security concerns posed by those apps.

The order set a Dec. 6 deadline for Commerce, in consultation with other government agencies, to submit a report on “additional executive and legislative actions to address the risk associated with connected software applications” that are acquired or accessible by companies controlled or based in countries that are deemed foreign adversaries.

A White House official confirmed to Reuters that the departments of Commerce and Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “have submitted an initial set of analyses and recommendations” in connection with the order, without offering details.

The official added that the “administration is now engaged in interagency deliberations to ensure that relevant departments and agencies have the tools, authorities and resources needed to protect Americans’ sensitive data.” The administration did not release any of the findings.

On Nov. 26, the Commerce Department proposed amending regulations on information and communications technology supply chains to provide additional criteria to implement Biden’s executive order and determine if connected software applications present unacceptable risks.

The Commerce Department said in October it met a separate deadline to make recommendations to protect U.S. data.

The administration of former President Donald Trump sought to block new users from downloading the Chinese apps and ban other technical transactions that Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok and WeChat both said would effectively block the apps’ U.S. use.

U.S. courts blocked those orders, which never took effect.

The Trump administration contended WeChat and TikTok posed national security concerns because sensitive personal data of U.S. users could be collected by China’s government. China and the apps have denied any improper use of U.S. data. Reuters


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