The US government has cited national security concerns in its targeting of the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform TikTok.
President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday appealed a federal judge’s order blocking restrictions that would have effectively banned the use of Chinese short-video sharing app TikTok in the United States.
The government cited national security concerns in its targeting of TikTok, arguing that US users’ personal data could be obtained by the Chinese government. TikTok, which has more than 100 million users in the United States, denies the allegation.
In a Dec. 7 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols in Washington, D.C. issued an order preventing the Commerce Department from banning data hosting for TikTok in the U.S., content delivery services and other technical transactions that TikTok owner ByteDance claims would have prevented the app from being used in the United States.
The Justice Department said it is appealing Nichols’ order to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
A separate U.S. appeals court is due to hear an appeal in February of an October ruling by U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania, which blocked the same restrictions that were due to take effect on November 12.
Officials briefed on the matter told Reuters news agency that the government is increasingly unlikely to resolve the fate of TikTok in the United States until Trump leaves office on January 20. There is still an outside chance that a deal will be done in January, they said.
In a separate ruling in September, Nichols issued an order preventing the Commerce Department from requiring Apple Inc and Alphabet’s Google to remove the TikTok app from their stores.
A US appeals court in Washington, DC heard the government’s appeal against the decision two weeks ago.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration chose not to grant ByteDance a further extension of an order the president issued in August requiring the company to divest TikTok’s U.S. assets. This gave the Department of Justice the power to enforce the surrender order once the deadline expired.
In a Dec. 16 interview with Reuters, then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen declined to say whether the Justice Department would seek to enforce the order. Rosen has since become the acting U.S. Attorney General.
Under pressure from the US government, ByteDance has been in talks for months to finalize a deal with Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to transfer TikTok’s US assets to a new entity.