Mobile Applications

Commerce Department Won't Pursue TikTok Shutdown

The Commerce Department won't be enforcing the order that would have effectively shut down the popular video-sharing app TikTok, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The proposed regulation from the Trump administration would have banned U.S. companies, including Apple and others, from offering TikTok in their app stores, and would have prohibited Amazon and Alphabet from offering web hosting services. Those moves would have essentially made the app unusable in the country.

The controversy came from the Trump administration's belief that the China-based app could be used by the country's Communist government to spy on private citizens. The Commerce Department cited lawsuits by three TikTok stars – comedian Douglas Marland, fashion guru Cosette Rinab and musician Alec Chambers – in its decision not to pursue the shutdown, WSJ reports.

In an injunction by U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone last month in Philadelphia, she posited that the shutdown “presents a threat to the ‘robust exchange of informational materials’” and would violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which the Trump administration has used so far to pursue legal damages against the company.

Amid ongoing privacy concerns from the government, a deal was made between Walmart and Oracle to take ownership of TikTok's U.S. business, though disagreements lingered with TikTok parent ByteDance. WSJ reports that a new ByteDance proposal would create a separate entity run by Oracle, Walmart and the U.S. investors that would be responsible for handling TikTok's U.S. user data and content moderation.

If the sale to Oracle and Walmart wasn't completed in time, the ruling from the Trump administration was that TikTok would be effectively shut down in the U.S. While a judge granted a preliminary injunction against the ruling from the Trump administration in late September, the administration set about trying to overturn that in October, appealing the injunction.

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