TikTok left hanging after Trump administration goes silent

2020-11-12

Chinese firm ByteDance has filed a petition in a US Court of Appeals calling for a review of President Trump's executive order that is set to take effect today, 12th November, requiring ByteDance to sell off the US operations popular video sharing app .

"With the November 12 CFIUS deadline imminent and without an extension in hand, we have no choice but to file a petition in court to defend our rights and those of our more than 1,500 employees in the US," ByteDance said in a statement, according to .

The Chinese firm argued that it had received no communication from the US government about the status of the proposal to put TikTok under the control of American companies Oracle and Walmart. It said that it was not clear whether the proposal has been accepted or not.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which is led by the US Treasury Department, was set to review the deal.

In its 49-page petition, ByteDance said that the forced divestment of TikTok violates the US constitution.

The future of the popular video-sharing app has been in limbo since Trump signed an executive order in August, asking ByteDance to sell TikTok to American firms by mid-November or face a US-wide ban.

The US government is concerned that the Chinese government could use the app to spy on American users.

TikTok has repeatedly denied those allegations, saying that its data centres are located outside of China, and that none of the data collected is subject to Chinese law. It also says that it is ready to work with the US officials to resolve concerns surrounding the app.

In September, announced that they had reached an agreement with ByteDance that would soothe President Donald Trump's concerns over TikTok.

As part of the deal, agreed to create a US subsidiary, TikTok Global, which will include TikTok's operations in the US and other countries, excluding China.

Oracle will own a 12.5 per cent stake in the new company, while Walmart will take a 7.5 per cent stake. The board of TikTok Global is expected to be mainly American (four out of five members), to pacify the White House administration.

During a television appearance on right-wing talk show Fox & Friends in September, President Trump said that ByteDance would not own any stake in TikTok Global, and "If they do, we just won't make the deal."

He added that if the government ever finds that Oracle does not have total control over TikTok, the deal would not be approved.

On 27th September, the US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington from ordering Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores for download by new users.

At that time, TikTok's lawyer argued in the court that it was an illogical decision by the government to ban the app when ByteDance was discussing a deal with American firms.

The ruling was the second against the Trump administration's efforts to crack down on Chinese-owned apps. Earlier, a federal judge in California had also issued a similar injunction, blocking the government' order to ban Tencent Holdings' WeChat app from US app stores.