U.S. backs off on enforcing TikTok ban

2020-11-14 09:43:45China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The U.S. government said it would delay implementing a ban on Tik-Tok to comply with a court ruling, and the popular video-sharing app has been granted more time to file paperwork for a potential sale.

The U.S. Commerce Department said in a document obtained by media on Thursday that "a preliminary injunction ordered by a federal-district court on Oct 30 prevents the implementation of specific Department actions".

Therefore, the department's order that was scheduled to take effect on Thursday "has been enjoined, and will not go into effect, pending legal developments", said the agency.

Also on Thursday, an appellate court in Washington granted Tik-Tok until Dec 14 to file more paperwork on its divestment plans, after the company filed a petition on Tuesday asking for a 30-day extension of its deadline. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said government officials hadn't given it feedback on its divestment plan in weeks.

The Commerce Department issued an order in September forbidding downloads of TikTok in the United States starting on Sept 27. It also ordered a separate set of technical restrictions on TikTok, barring data hosting, content delivery and other services within the U.S. starting on Thursday.

Wang Wenbin, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Friday that China always opposes the act of generalizing the concept of national security. "We hope that the U.S. will earnestly respect the market economy and fair competition, abide by rules and provide a fair, just and nondiscriminatory business environment."

'Hypothetical' threat

The preliminary injunction cited in the Commerce Department's document was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania. The judge ruled that U.S. President Donald Trump exceeded his authority by invoking his emergency economic powers to impose sanctions against TikTok, citing a threat to U.S. security.

"The government's own descriptions of the national security threat posed by the TikTok app are phrased in the hypothetical," Beetlestone wrote.

The lawsuit was brought by three TikTok influencers, all of whom have millions of followers on the app and make substantial money through short-form videos.

The U.S. government appealed the court's ruling on Thursday. The government's lawyers have argued that it is trying to prevent data on TikTok users in the U.S. from being shared with the Chinese government, a claim TikTok has repeatedly denied. TikTok has said it stores all U.S. users' data in the country.

TikTok filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in a District Court in Los Angeles in August, challenging an executive order by Trump that banned U.S. transactions with the company.

Trump said he would ban TikTok in the U.S. unless it was owned by a U.S. company. He also said his government should get a cut of the deal, and he publicly backed software company Oracle as a potential buyer of TikTok.

Oracle, teaming up with Walmart, had proposed to take an ownership stake in TikTok that would satisfy the White House's "national security" concerns, but the deal was never finalized and remains stalled.


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