TikTok gets reprieve as US holds off on enforcing ban

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States (US) government announced on Thursday it would delay enforcement of a ban on TikTok, saying it would comply with a court order in favour of the Chinese-owned social media sensation.

The hit shortform video app was forbidden based on national security concerns voiced by US officials, but the Commerce Department said it was holding off due 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 “has been enjoined and will not go into effect pending further legal developments”.

The government on Thursday appealed the judge’s decision.

The news comes amid a torrent of litigation following US President Donald Trump’s move to ban the fast-growing app unless it were sold to American investors to allay security concerns, but no deal has been finalised.

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.

The Trump administration 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 its social media star.

Trump and his aides have claimed TikTok and its parent firm can be used to collect data on Americans for Chinese espionage, a claim denied by the company.

TikTok had no immediate comment on the latest development but said it was “deeply moved by the outpouring of support from our creators, who have worked to protect their rights to expression, their careers, and to helping small businesses, particularly during the pandemic.”