TikTok US Ban: US Court Agrees to Expedite Government Appeal

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A US appeals court on Wednesday agreed to fast-track a Justice Department appeal of a ruling blocking the government from banning new TikTok downloads from US app stores.

US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued a preliminary injunction on September 27 that barred the US Commerce Department from ordering Apple and Alphabet’s Google app stores to remove the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app for download by new users.

A US appeals court in Washington said all briefs are due by November 12 with oral arguments to follow. The government’s opening brief is due on Friday.

Nichols plans to hold a November 4 hearing on whether to allow the US government to bar transactions with TikTok that it has warned would effectively ban the app’s use in the United States. Those restrictions are set to take effect on November 12.

On Wednesday, TikTok sought a preliminary injunction to block those restrictions, disclosing that US TikTok users on average send 80 million direct messages and share 46 million videos a day on the app.

The company said the US government has produced “no evidence that the TikTok source code has ever been compromised, shared or used for nefarious purposes; no evidence that the Chinese government has ever obtained access to any TikTok user data, let alone that of US users; and no evidence that TikTok’s recommendation engine systematically biases Chinese (or any other) political interest.”

China’s ByteDance, which owns TikTok, has been under pressure to sell the popular app. The White House contends that TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China’s government. Any deal will need to be reviewed by the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), but people briefed on the matter do not expect any final agreement before the election.

Negotiations are underway for Walmart and Oracle to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee US operations.

Key terms of the deal, including who will have majority ownership, are in dispute.

A federal judge in San Francisco blocked similar restrictions from taking effect that would bar the use of Tencent’s WeChat. A hearing is set for Thursday on the government’s request to immediately implement the ban on the Chinese messaging app.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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