US President Joe Biden restarted scrutiny of potential security threats posed by China-based software companies, reigniting the possibility the nation could seek to ban leading apps including TikTok and WeChat.

In an executive order issued yesterday (9 June), the president warned of a continued threat to US national security from non-domestic software, and called on the Department of Commerce (DoC) to evaluate potential threats.

The president expressed concern about growing use of services provided by “persons owned or subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary”, including China. In addition to security, he has worries about the impact on the US economy.

President Biden did not single any companies out, instead calling for the DoC to conduct “rigorous, evidence-based analysis and address any unacceptable risks” by issuing recommendations on ways to protect sensitive US data within 120 days of the start of the probe.

The DoC is also tasked recommending additional executive and legislative actions to address the risk associated with “foreign adversary connected software applications”.

Former US President Donald Trump cited national security concerns in moves to ban TikTok and WeChat. The actions were ultimately blocked by courts following legal challenges from the apps’ parent companies, ByteDance and Tencent.

Alongside ordering a fresh review, President Biden withdrew executive orders prohibiting transactions with eight other communications and fintech apps including Alipay, WeChat Pay, QQWallet and Tencent QQ.