Saturday, 24 Oct 2020

U.S. judge expected to decide by Sunday if TikTok will remain in U.S. app stores

FILE PHOTO: TikTok’s logo is displayed on the smartphone while standing on the U.S. flag in this illustration picture taken, November 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A judge is expected to decide by Sunday whether to allow a ban on TikTok from Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc Google app stores after a last-minute filing by the Department of Justice in support of the move.

The government faced a 2:30 p.m. Friday deadline to either delay the ban or oppose TikTok’s preliminary injunction. The Justice Department filed its objection under seal because it includes submissions made by TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, that include confidential business information.

ByteDance has said it has made a preliminary deal for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in the short video sharing app, but the exact terms of the agreement remain unclear.

Judge Carl Nichols in Washington is expected to rule before Sunday on TikTok’s request. The Commerce Department gave the companies an additional week to finalize a deal before an order banning TikTok from U.S. app stores takes effect, citing “recent positive developments.”

On Sunday, a judge in California issued an preliminary injunction that blocked a similar order from taking effect on Tencent Holdings’ WeChat app. The Justice Department has asked the judge to allow the ban to take effect pending appeal.

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

On Saturday, ByteDance, Walmart and Oracle said they reached an agreement that would to allow TikTok to continue to operate in the United States after President Donald Trump said he had blessed the deal.

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

ByteDance has said its deal with Oracle and Walmart will see the creation of a standalone U.S. company and does not involve any transfer of technology, though Oracle will be able to inspect TikTok U.S. source code. It has also said the deal needs approval from both China and the United States.

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