PThe Biden administration petitioned a federal appeals court on Monday for a ruling that would put a stop to the Trump administration's efforts to block new TikTok downloads. In a legal filing, the US Justice Department stated that the lawsuit against the Chinese-owned video-sharing app "is now moot" and that the cases had been voluntarily dropped by the government.
Within 14 days, a court ruling is expected. President Joe Biden signed an executive order last month, rescinding measures taken by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
The US asks court to dismiss TikTok ruling
The Commerce Department also revoked its orders prohibiting new app downloads. Last August, Trump attempted to prohibit new downloads of TikTok and the Tencent-owned messaging app WeChat, claiming that the apps might have backdoors that would transmit American users' data to Beijing, endangering US national security.
TikTok was told that unless it sold its US operations to an American, it would be shut down. That deal, which had been in the works with Oracle and Walmart, was put on hold earlier this year while Biden's team looked into Trump's China policy. The US, on the other hand, is currently investigating TikTok's parent firm, ByteDance, for its 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly, as per Reuter via MSN.
On June 22, the Commerce Department publicly retracted a list of banned transactions with ByteDance-owned TikTok and Tencent-owned WeChat that had been released in September and tried to prevent users from downloading the applications. The government's legal challenges, according to the Justice Department, are now moot. It requested the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to reject its appeals.
Separately, the Justice Department stated in a petition with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that it has not yet determined how to proceed with its appeal of a lower court judgment that blocked the Trump administration's attempts to impose limits on WeChat. The government said it was in talks with attorneys for the WeChat users who had filed suit "about suitable future measures in this appeal."
TikTok still subject to national security assessment
By July 26, the administration intends to tell the court of its decision. The Biden directive instructed the Commerce Department to keep an eye on software programs like TikTok that might compromise US national security and to provide suggestions within 120 days on how to secure US data obtained or accessible by foreign adversary-controlled firms.
In a June 28 interview with Reuters, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the department was "just getting started" with its assessment, which will involve an "evidence-based" study. Another Trump directive, signed in January, that targeted eight other communications and financial technology software apps was also canceled by Biden's executive order.
The Trump directive instructed officials to prohibit transactions using eight Chinese applications, including Alipay from Ant Group and QQ Wallet, and WeChat Pay from Tencent. There were no restrictions imposed. TikTok is still the subject of a separate US national security assessment, which began in late 2019, StraitTimes reported.
According to officials, Biden's directive attempts to define the conditions that the US considers to be harmful to Americans' sensitive data. A White House fact sheet revealed the data contains personally-identifying information and genetic information that would go to persons directly related to foreign rivals, including China.
Per Bloomberg via Yahoo, a senior administration official said a separate national security assessment of the sale of TikTok to an American business is continuing and unrelated to Wednesday's move. At a routine news conference in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stated that China will continue to protect the interests of its companies.