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US TikTok ban blocked, but deal with Oracle, Walmart remains in limbo

Written by Wency Chen Published on 

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A technology advisor of President-elect Joe Biden said that it was “too early to say” what his view on TikTok might be.

The US government on Thursday said that it won’t enforce the order that would shut down the US usage of TikTok, the viral short video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which was labeled as a national security threat by the Trump administration, the Wall Street Journal reported. As the clampdown on TikTok is weakening, a sale of its US business to Walmart and Oracle still remains in limbo.

The US Commerce Department cited a preliminary injunction from a Pennsylvania federal judge last month who said that the department had likely overstepped its authority when imposing the ban. The prohibition of TikTok “has been enjoined and will not go into effect, pending further legal developments,” according to a document from the Commerce Department.

In September, a federal judge of the US District Court in Washington D.C. granted a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s ban that would remove TikTok from the Google and Apple app stores.

President Trump in August issued an executive order that forced TikTok’s Beijing-based parent ByteDance to divest its US business to American companies, or otherwise TikTok would be blocked in the US. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) has set November 12 as the deadline for the TikTok divestiture.

Although the proposal by TikTok buyers Oracle and Walmart was approved by the Trump administration in September, the deal hasn’t been finalized yet and is facing hurdles from the Chinese government, which in August added “personalized content-recommend technology based on data analysis” to a list of tech export restrictions. ByteDance was reportedly in September preparing an initial public offering in the US for the new entity that will oversee TikTok’s operations, in a move to appease the Trump administration.

Earlier this week, TikTok filed a petition in a US Court of Appeals, saying that it hasn’t heard from CFIUS in weeks about the deadline after the company applied for a 30-day extension.

The attitude of President-elect Joe Biden is still unclear. One of his technology advisors said that it was “too early to say” what his view on TikTok might be. Biden’s campaign in July told employees to delete TikTok off their work and personal devices due to security concerns, CNBC reported.

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