Very soon after his January 20 inauguration, new U.S. President Joe Biden has reversed many of Donald Trump’s backward policies established over the last four years. In the first 24 hours alone, he rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, reinstated protections for LGBTQ+ people, ended a travel ban on majority-Muslim countries, and retracted the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
Now, the president’s administration will suspend Trump’s proposed TikTok ban, as it assesses whether the short-form video app really poses a national security threat. According to the BBC, the suspension means that both TikTok and the messaging app WeChat, two Chinese-owned apps implicated in the ban, can continue to operate in the US while government staff familiarize themselves with the case.
Taking cue from hacktivist collective Anonymous’s allegations that the app is: “essentially malware operated by the Chinese government running a massive spying operation,” Trump claimed the app posed privacy and security dangers to the government. TikTok subsequently sued the US government, arguing that the ban denies the company due process, something guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.
The company also claimed that Trump’s executive order ignored its efforts to prove it doesn’t share data with the Chinese government. In November, three influencers also (successfully) took on the TikTok ban in court.
Following multiple delays to the ban deadline, TikTok was in talks with Oracle and Walmart to finalize a deal that would shift the app’s US assets to a new entity, circumventing the ban. If the Biden administration does soften restrictions on the operations of Chinese apps following the pause, that deal may no longer have to go ahead.