The U.S. government appealed a federal judge’s court order blocking the Commerce Department from imposing restrictions on TikTok, which would have seen the short video-sharing app with Chinese owners effectively banned in the United States.
Trump’s administration had come up with national security issues, which provided leverage to argue that American citizens’ data could fall into China’s hands.
TikTok has over 100 million users in the United States, who could be at risk of invasion of privacy by China if the claims are true. However, the company denies the allegations that it is a spy tool for Beijing.
Blocks and appeals
Judge Carl Nichols ruled on the case on December 7, issuing an order that barred the Commerce Department from preventing data hosting within the United States for TikTok, technical transactions, and content delivery services that Bytedance said would have crippled the platform’s use.
The Justice Department is appealing the judge’s order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
There is a separate appeals court hearing in February 2021, regarding an October ruling by Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania, who barred similar restrictions that were expected to come into effect on November 12 if they had been allowed.
It could play out in different ways
It is not likely that the U.S. government will resolve the TikTok issue in the U.S. before Trump leaves office in less than three weeks.
There is a chance that a deal could be arrived at in January. In another different ruling in September, Judge Nichols issued an order that prevented the Commerce Department from forcing Apple and Google to remove the app from their respective app stores.
Bowing to U.S. government pressure, Bytedance has been talking to Walmart and Oracle to shift TikTok’s U.S. operations to a new U.S.-owned entity.