Personal data can evolve into a national security issue. In August 2020, fears of foreign adversaries’ access to Americans’ personal data prompted President Trump to issue two executive orders that attempted to ban Chinese-owned social media applications TikTok and WeChat in the United States. In the last few years, the U.S. executive branch has acted against foreign entities that implicate national security interests via two primary tools: the presidential power under the International Economic Emergency Powers Act (IEEPA) and a foreign investment screening regime under the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA). However, the statutes were enacted before Congress could have envisioned the impact of personal information on national security. IEEPA’s statutory limitations especially make it an ill-fitting tool to regulate software data ownership and acquisitions. This Note will review recent uses of IEEPA and FIRRMA, analyze the legal problems and economic implications of the TikTok-WeChat ban, and propose that FIRRMA serves as a better solution to address data privacy risks posed by software and that further statutory reforms are necessary to better protect the nation’s and people’s interests.
When Your Apps Threaten National Security – A Review of the TikTok and WeChat Bans and Government Actions Under IEEPA and FIRRMA,
16 Brook. J. Corp. Fin. & Com. L.
Available at: https://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/bjcfcl/vol16/iss1/11