Friday, 30 Oct 2020

Trump says safety will be dominant factor in his TikTok decision; judge says US must defend app store ban by Friday

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – US President Donald Trump said on Thursday (Sept 24) his decision on whether to approve a potential deal involving US companies taking a greater ownership share of Chinese social media app TikTok will hinge primarily on the issue of safety.

“They’re working to see if they can make a deal,” he told reporters, adding that if a deal is made, it will be presented to him.

“I’ll either … approve it or not. To me, safety is the predominant factor.”

A US judge said on Thursday the Trump administration must either delay a ban on US app stores offering TikTok for download or file legal papers defending the decision by Friday.

The US Commerce Department order banning Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google app stores from offering the short video sharing app for new downloads is set to take effect late Sunday.

US District Judge Carl Nichols said the government must file a response to a request by TikTok for a preliminary injunction or delay the order by 2.30pm EDT Friday (2.30am Saturday Singapore time).

A federal judge in San Francisco on Saturday issued a preliminary injunction blocking a similar Commerce Department order from taking effect on Sunday on Tencent Holdings’ WeChat app.

The Commerce Department said it plans to challenge the WeChat injunction, but government lawyers have not yet filed a appeal.

US officials have expressed serious concerns that the personal data of as many as 100 million Americans that use TikTok was being passed on to China’s Communist Party government.

On Saturday, the Commerce Department announced a one-week delay in the TikTok order, citing “recent positive developments” in talks over the fate of its US operations.

TikTok said the restrictions “were not motivated by a genuine national security concern, but rather by political considerations relating to the upcoming general election.”

TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, said on Monday it will own 80 per cent of TikTok Global, a newly created US company that will own most of the app’s operations worldwide.

ByteDance added that TikTok Global will become its subsidiary.

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

On Monday, Oracle said ByteDance’s ownership of TikTok would be distributed to ByteDance’s investors, and that the Beijing-based firm would have no stake in TikTok Global.

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