TikTok requests injunction against U.S. app store ban

Clay Curtis
September 24, 2020

President Donald Trump set this process in motion with executive orders in August that declared TikTok and another Chinese app threats to U.S. national security. "The Commerce Department said Friday that it would start banning US transactions with TikTok starting on Sunday, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. later clarified that 'the basic TikTok will stay intact until November 12th". It's perhaps looking at the plight of another app, WeChat, whose users successfully argued for an injunction in San Francisco federal court this weekend that blocked the app from being banned on Sunday by the Commerce Department. Mr. Trump, who has authority to approve or reject the deal on national security grounds, has indicated he is for the deal.

On Wednesday, TikTok filed a request for a preliminary injunction, asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to halt the looming ban.

Banning the apps from app stores would not block existing users from accessing the services, but without the ability to receive software updates, quality of service would quickly degrade.

Oracle Corp and Walmart Inc have agreed to take stakes in TikTok Global of 12.5% and 7.5%, respectively.

However, contrasting statements made by the United States companies and ByteDance about the ownership and control of TikTok Global have raised fresh concerns that the Trump administration may ultimately reject the proposal.

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"What the United States has done to TikTok is nearly the same as a gangster forcing an unreasonable and unfair business deal on a legitimate company", the Chinese editorial read. The popular app had to be sold in order for U.S. users to continue using it. Microsoft offered to buy the app, but ByteDance declined it. The future for TikTok is still uncertain, but the move to the USA sure could help.

Under a separate executive order issued by Mr Trump earlier this year, any deal must receive final approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the USA before November 12 to avoid a full ban of the app.

ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese parent of video app TikTok, submitted an application in Beijing for permission to export technology, as it tries to work out an agreement with the Trump administration that will avoid a USA ban on the service.

Regulators in Washington have been conducting a security review of TikTok for more than a year. Those orders effectively banned United States businesses from transacting with WeChat and TikTok. Then the president's re-election campaign ran negative Facebook advertisements urging supporters to sign a petition to ban TikTok. Fears over the coronavirus, the Trump campaign says, is what really depressed turnout.

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