The US government announced Thursday it would delay enforcement of a ban on TikTok, saying it would comply with a court order in favor of the Chinese-owned social media sensation.
The Trump administration has insisted on the need to ban the fast-growing app, saying it has links to the Chinese government through its parent company ByteDance, and that user data could be obtained by Beijing.
The hit short-form video app — which has some 100 million users in the US — was given a reprieve after the Commerce Department said it was holding off on banning it owing to an injunction by a federal judge issued on October 30.
“The department is complying with the terms of this order,” it said in a statement, adding that the ban “will not go into effect pending further legal developments.”
The government has launched an appeal against the judge’s decision in the case, which was brought by TikTok influencers.
The White House has said TikTok must become a US firm controlled by American investors to avert a ban.
But any plan would likely need approval from Beijing, which has balked at giving up control of its social media star.
China’s commerce ministry published new rules in August that added “civilian use” to a list of technologies that are restricted for export, which could make it more difficult for ByteDance to sell TikTok, which features clips of everything from dance routines to politics.
In a statement on the reprieve, TikTok said: “(We) look forward to reaching a resolution that addresses their security concerns, even as we disagree with them.”
ByteDance and TikTok have proposed creating a new company with IT firm Oracle as a technology partner and retail giant Walmart as a business partner, but no deal has been confirmed.
ByteDance had been given until Thursday to restructure ownership of the app in the United States to address national security concerns, but it filed a petition in a Washington court this week asking for a delay.
The company said in a Tuesday statement that it had asked the government for a 30-day extension because of “continual new requests and no clarity on whether our proposed solutions would be accepted,” but it was not granted.
A separate case brought by TikTok is pending in another Washington court, which last month blocked the US government from enforcing a ban on new downloads of the app.
Donald Trump and his aides have claimed TikTok and ByteDance can be used to collect data on Americans for Chinese espionage, a claim they deny. AFP