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(Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department said on Tuesday it submitted an initial set of recommendations on data security under an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.
In June, Biden withdrew a series of Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of WeChat and TikTok, and ordered a Commerce Department review of security concerns posed by those apps.
The order directed Commerce to make recommendations by last Thursday to protect U.S. data acquired or accessible by companies controlled by foreign adversaries.
“The department submitted an initial set of recommendations to the administration’s key national security advisers,” a Commerce spokesperson said.
The administration of former President Donald Trump had attempted to block new users from downloading the apps and ban other technical transactions that Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok and WeChat both said would effectively block the apps' use in the United States.
U.S. courts blocked those orders, which never took effect.
The Trump administration contended that WeChat and TikTok posed national security concerns because sensitive personal data of U.S. users could be collected by China’s government.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio asked the Commerce Department for an update “on recommendations the U.S. Department of Commerce is obligated to produce on how to protect Americans’ data in the wake of President Biden’s decision to rescind the ban on these harmful apps and their continued operation in the United States.”
Last month, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters the administration is “very serious about protecting Americans’ data” and was working with allies.
A report by U.S.-based cyber security firm Varonis Systems Inc. found that many manufacturing and engineering companies are not prepared to tackle a disruptive cyber attack, Security Brief reported. The report found that 40% of the organizations gave each of their employee easy access to more than 1,000 sensitive files. Organizations were also found leaving nearly 10,000 folders per terabyte of data exposed and accessible to anyone.