July 29, 2021

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Last-minute respite for TikTok: the social network gets a month and a half more in the United States


TikTok has 45 days to convince Donald Trump’s government or the courts not to ban him from the United States, by reaching an agreement with American companies or by proving in court that such a ban would be illegal.

TikTok partners with Oracle and Walmart: the end of the summer tech soap opera

Judge Carl Nichols, of a Washington court, granted Sunday, September 27, to the social network owned by the Chinese group ByteDance, that a withdrawal from mobile app download platforms would cause it “Irreparable damage”, according to his explanations [PDF] published Monday, September 28.

In the United States, more than 100 million users

This was one of the arguments of TikTok, which has 100 million users in the United States and was gaining some 424,000 new users per day at the start of the summer. “The nature of social networks means that users are unlikely to return to a platform they have abandoned”, notes the judge. All crazy TikTok

The Ministry of Commerce had ordered this withdrawal from the “app stores” as a first step in the application of a presidential decree of August 6, where Donald Trump raised the risk of transfers of user data to China, describes TikTok as threat to the “National security” and announces that it will be prohibited unless it comes under the American fold.

The next step was therefore to ban TikTok in the United States from September 18, a ban that the network of short videos is also challenging in court.

But Carl Nichols refused to rule on this point, believing that the question deserved to be discussed further in new proceedings, before November 12, the fateful date set by the ministry.

An American spy tool?

“The ultimate goal of these bans is to protect national security by preventing China from accessing data and influencing content on TikTok”, recognizes the judge.

TikTok, hostage of the digital cold war between Washington and Beijing

But he adds, in agreement with TikTok, that the government bans can be seen as “Indirect regulations of personal communications or information exchange.

However, this type of regulation is not included in the framework of the special economic powers (IEEPA) invoked by Donald Trump to ban TikTok. But the social network is far from being off the hook.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, cited by the judge, the Chinese Communist Party “Builds massive databases with the personal data of Americans”, to help “The Chinese government to deepen its intelligence gathering to better understand who to target in terms of espionage, digitally or via human resources”.

TikTok has been fighting for months to prove its foothold in the United States and is negotiating with American companies.

The network last weekend confirmed an agreement to create a new company, TikTok Global, with Oracle as a technology partner in the United States and Walmart as a business partner. But the finalization depends on the goodwill of the American president and the Chinese government.