TikTok Will Outlast Trump
Feds still fighting for TikTok ban but will delay enforcement. TikTok isn’t quite safe yet, but President Donald Trump’s absurd and authoritarian attempt to effectively ban the app by forbidding Americans from doing business with ByteDance, its parent company, is flailing.
To carry out the president’s order, the Commerce Department declared back in August that as of November 12, 2020, certain business transactions with TikTok—including “any provision of internet hosting services” and “any provision of content delivery network services”—were banned. In September, a federal judge preliminarily rebuffed implementation of the ban, however, and in October, another federal court blocked the Commerce Department from enforcing the ban.
Yesterday, the Commerce Department appealed the latter ruling but also said it would not enforce the order “pending further legal developments.”
“The U.S. crackdown on Chinese social-media apps has been led by President Trump, and it is unclear how President-elect Joe Biden will address the situation,” notes The Wall Street Journal. “Many members of Congress in both parties, however, have sounded alarms about potential Chinese data-gathering and surveillance in the U.S.”
Like their GOP counterparts, Democrats have a history of raising concerns about TikTok and, more broadly, of using data privacy as an excuse to give the government more control of internet data and content. Trump’s move—which seemed calculated to play to his base’s animosity toward China and Big Tech more than anything—may have been more arbitrary but also more limited than the type of data “protection” policies Democrats are dreaming up.
Politicians in both major parties tend to give away the game a little in the details. Trump was OK with TikTok operating so long as it was partially sold to an American company, the U.S. government could possibly get a cut of that money, and he could brag about the good deal he brokered. Data protection bills and proposals tend to let internet companies keep collecting as much user data as they already are, provided they let the government (and users who request it) know what they’ve got.
Whatever happens, other court challenges to Trump’s TikTok order are pending, including one from ByteDance asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the Committee on Foreign Investment’s ruling that ByteDance must divest TikTok.
ByteDance is reportedly also still in negotiations with U.S. buyers. More from the
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