U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Tuesday, banning transactions with Ant Group’s Alipay mobile payment app and seven other Chinese apps. As per Reuters, the move aims to “curb the threat to Americans posed by Chinese software applications, which have larger user bases and access to sensitive data.”
This isn’t the first time that President Trump has signed an executive order targeting Chinese apps. In August last year, Trump directed the Commerce Department to block some transactions with WeChat and ByteDance-owned TikTok. However, the restrictions were blocked by courts on free speech concerns.
The executive order argues that the U.S. must take “aggressive action” against the developers of the apps to protect national security. Aside from Jack Ma’s Alipay, the order also targets QQ Wallet, WeChat Pay, CamScanner, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, and WPS Office.
The executive order states:
By accessing personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, Chinese connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information.
It adds that such data collection would allow China not just to track the locations of federal officials and contractors, but also “build dossiers of personal information.”
The U.S. Commerce Department has been asked to identify prohibited transactions that will be banned under the new directive within 45 days. While President-elect Joe Biden can revoke the order after he assumes office, it remains unclear how he plans to address the “tech threats” from China.
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