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Fatema Merchant is a partner in the Government Contracts, Investigations and International Trade and White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations Practice Groups in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

On June 9, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order (“EO”) revoking Trump’s orders on TikTok and WeChat. In their stead, President Biden’s EO subjects software applications controlled or owned by “foreign adversaries” (i.e., China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Nicolas Maduro) to a review process led by the Commerce Department to evaluate whether an app presents U.S. national security concerns. This EO fits within the broader confrontation between the United States and China when it comes to emerging technologies, sensitive personal data, and the threats we see from cyberattacks that exploit vulnerabilities in U.S. IT systems.
Continue Reading Beyond TikTok and WeChat: How Biden’s New EO Could Impact Foreign-Owned Apps

Last week, on June 3, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order (“E.O.”) prohibiting U.S. investments in designated Chinese companies deemed to undermine “the security or democratic values of the United States and [its] allies” (see here). The E.O. is the most recent in a long list of foreign policy actions seeking to put pressure on China using economic tools to curtail China’s surveillance and intelligence activities against the United States. The E.O. amends and supersedes Trump’s Executive Order 13959 (“E.O. 13959”), as amended by Executive Order 13974 (“E.O. 13974”), which similarly prohibited U.S. persons from engaging in certain transactions with companies placed on the Defense Department’s Chinese Communist Military Companies (“CCMC”) list. The E.O. contains a new list, the “Chinese-Military Industrial Companies” (“CMIC”), that replaces the CCMC for purposes of prohibiting certain transactions by U.S. persons. The new CMIC list includes many of the previously-designated companies on the CCMC list, including, for example, Huawei and Hikvision. While previous prohibitions on these companies focused on export restrictions, the U.S. government is tightening the avenues for U.S. companies to safely conduct business with many Chinese behemoths. For U.S. companies that deal regularly with China, it would make sense to think more broadly about those business relationships as companies develop their strategic plans.
Continue Reading President Biden Issues a New…ish Ban on Certain Chinese Investments

Since President Biden took office and put his national security team in place, we have wondered about the future of the Iran Nuclear Deal. In the past weeks, the Biden Administration has taken formal steps to possibly restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (i.e., JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal).
Continue Reading JCPO-Wait-A-Minute: How New Talks Between the U.S. and Iran Could Revive the Iran Nuclear Deal

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“DOC”) issued an interim final rule governing transactions in Information and Communication Technology or Services (“ICTS”) involving “foreign adversaries.” Although the rule takes effect on March 22, 2021, it allows DOC to review covered transactions initiated, pending, or completed on or after January 19, 2021.
Continue Reading Friend or Foe? The DOC Issues New Interim Rule on Transactions Involving Information and Communication Technology or Services (“ICTS”) and Foreign Adversaries

On January 13, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on cotton and tomato products produced by entities operating in Xinjiang, China. The order is based on information that indicates the use of forced labor in the production of the goods. If you are sourcing these products from the Xinjiang region, you may want to consider proactive compliance steps to mitigate your risk and prevent disruption in your supply chain.  
Continue Reading CBP Stops More Imports Under Forced Labor Rules (Cotton a Jam, Part II)

The Takeaway: Severe restrictions on ByteDance’s Sale of TikTok should be a warning to media and tech companies with foreign ownership, particularly Chinese investment, to know your risks and mitigate them before the government comes knocking.
Continue Reading UPDATE: National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: U.S. Increases Pressure on ByteDance Sale of TikTok

On August 6, 2020, Trump issued two separate executive orders that will severely restrict TikTok and WeChat’s business in the United States.  For weeks, the media has reported on Trump’s desire to “ban” TikTok with speculation about the legal authority to do so.  We break down the impact of the Orders below.
Continue Reading National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: Trump Issues Executive Orders Impacting TikTok and WeChat Business in the U.S.

This article originally appeared on Law360 on June 9.

The novel coronavirus and resulting global health pandemic and economic crisis created a perfect storm for bad actors to engage in fraud and financial crimes. Law enforcement’s response to the criminal activity spurred by the pandemic and economic stimulus and relief efforts are still nascent and focusing on low hanging frauds by individuals and small groups.
Continue Reading Another COVID-19 Enforcement Tool: Money Laundering Law

Taking a break from reporting on COVID-19 legal developments, we turn for a moment to what is happening now on export control of autonomous vehicle technology.

The autonomous vehicle R&D sector is booming, largely in the last three years. Companies are investing in sensor technology and machine learning, and creating pilot programs to test self-driving cars both for individuals and ride-sharing purposes.


Continue Reading The Emerging Landscape for Export Controls on Autonomous Vehicle Technology