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TikTok Ban: US Judge to Hold November 4 Hearing on Government Action

A US judge said on Tuesday he would hold a November 4 hearing on whether to allow the US government to bar transactions with TikTok, a move that the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app has warned would effectively ban its use in the United States.

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 Inc’s Google app stores to remove TikTok for download by new users.

Nichols must now decide whether to block the other aspects of the Commerce Department order set to take effect on November 12. Nichols’ new hearing is scheduled for one day after the presidential election.

Talks are ongoing to finalise a preliminary deal for Walmart and Oracle to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee US operations. US President Donald Trump said last month the deal had his “blessing.”

Key terms of the deal, including who will have majority ownership, are in dispute. TikTok owner ByteDance has also said any deal will need China’s approval, and Beijing has revised its list of technologies subject to export bans, in a way that gives it a say over any TikTok deal.

The Trump administration contends 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 is subject to review by the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). That panel could also decide to block the app’s use in the United States.

Separately the Justice Department appealed the September 19 preliminary junction issued by US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction blocked the US Commerce Department order, which would also bar other US transactions with Tencent ‘s WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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