Thursday, October 22, 2020

TikTok asks court for injunction to stall impending ban

Sep 24. 2020
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By The Washington Post · Rachel Lerman · NATIONAL, BUSINESS, WORLD, TECHNOLOGY, ASIA-PACIFIC

SAN FRANCISCO - TikTok filed for an injunction in federal court Wednesday to halt a ban of the video app as it scrambles to complete a deal with the Trump administration, suggesting the agreement may not get wrapped up this week.

Currently, TikTok is set to be banned from app stores Sunday. TikTok was given a week-long extension by the Trump administration last week, after President Donald Trump seemed to give tacit approval over the weekend to a deal that would create a new TikTok Global company headquartered in the United States. The new company would include investments from Oracle and Walmart.

TikTok's request for a preliminary injunction Wednesday comes just days after Chinese messaging app WeChat was granted an injunction to temporarily halt the administration's ban of its app.

It could mean TikTok isn't certain it will get the deal tied up in time to avoid a ban. The deal was thrown into limbo this week when TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, and Oracle presented different versions of an ownership structure for the new company. ByteDance said it would still own 80% of the new TikTok company, but Oracle said ByteDance wouldn't own any piece of it.

Trump told Fox News on Monday that "we just won't make the deal" if ByteDance had anything to do with the company.

TikTok and ByteDance originally sued Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Commerce Department in August after the president signed an executive order to ban the video app from doing business in the United States, citing national security concerns. Trump has expressed concerns that TikTok could be sharing information with the Chinese government, a claim the company has denied.

Since then, TikTok has been working to make a deal with an American company that would allow it to keep operating in the United States. It talked with suitors, including Microsoft, about a full sale but eventually proposed a scaled-down deal to the Trump administration.

Its proposed deal would involve Oracle having oversight of its technical operations in the United States, a move that TikTok hopes will quell Trump's and regulators' national security concerns.

Trump also said part of the deal included a $5 billion fund for education in the United States, but neither Oracle nor Walmart have directly confirmed the fund. Trump said last month that any TikTok deal should include "a very substantial portion" of the purchase price to be paid to the U.S. Treasury. He later backed off that claim.

On Saturday, Trump told reporters that he had given the deal "his blessing" but hinted it might still fall apart.

"If they get it done, that's great. If they don't, that's OK, too," he said.

 

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