President Joe Biden has ordered a review of the previous administration’s efforts to address US national security risks posed by Chinese tech firms.

This means that TikTok’s sale to US-based Oracle and Walmart, has effectively been shelved indefinitely, people familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Former US President Donald Trump had in August 2020 signed two executive orders that would have prohibited US companies from carrying out TikTok-related deals with China’s ByteDance (TikTok’s owner) after 45 days on national security grounds.

Deal shelved

The second order demanded that TikTok divest its US operations to an American company.

ByteDance had delayed the sale for months, thanks to repeated and successful legal challenges to the executive order and the US Commerce Department.

The WSJ reported that discussions have continued between representatives of ByteDance and US national security officials, the people said.

Those discussions have centered on data security and ways to prevent the information TikTok collects on American users from being accessed by the Chinese government, they said.

But ByteDance is uncertain which way the Biden administration might lean.

Security review

And no imminent decision on how to resolve the issues surrounding TikTok is expected as the Biden administration determines its own response to the potential security risk posed by Chinese tech companies’ collection of data, the WSJ reported.

“We plan to develop a comprehensive approach to securing US data that addresses the full range of threats we face,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne is quoted as saying. “This includes the risk posed by Chinese apps and other software that operate in the US.”

“In the coming months, we expect to review specific cases in light of a comprehensive understanding of the risks we face,” she added.

Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese firms will be watching developments in the United States very closely.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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