TikTok Will Not Be Shut Down Yet
Members of Congress in both parties have sounded alarms about potential Chinese data-gathering and surveillance in the U.S. The decisions to come will not only effect U.S.-Chinese relations, they could act as the backbone for how the global internet and other countries deal with and incorporate Chinese technology.
The Commerce Department’s action delayed implementation of an order that would have barred companies from providing internet-hosting or content-delivery services to TikTok. In announcing its decision, the Commerce Department cited a preliminary injunction against the shutdown last month by U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia.
Judge Beetlestone said the government action “presents a threat to the ‘robust exchange of informational materials’” and therefore likely exceeds the government’s authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
The U.S. government appealed that order late Thursday saying the government efforts are aimed at protecting U.S. users’ data, and not at closing off informational exchanges.
A TikTok spokeswoman said the company was “focused on continuing to engage CFIUS” in an effort to address the security concerns, “even as we disagree with them.”
The Treasury Department, which oversees Cfius, issued a statement a day earlier saying that it “remains focused on reaching a resolution of the national security risks” from TikTok.
The President issued an order in August stating that TikTok would be banned in the U.S., but later told reporters that he might approve a divestiture to a U.S. company.
People familiar with ByteDance have said the company is working to take measures to safeguard the data of its American users, but noted that they don’t believe the U.S. government has authority to dictate the corporate structure of a Chinese company.
In its recent filing in the appeals court case, TikTok said that ByteDance recently submitted a fourth version of its proposal for addressing U.S. security concerns.
The proposal called for creating “a new entity, wholly owned by Oracle, Walmart and existing U.S. investors in ByteDance, that would be responsible for handling TikTok’s U.S. user data and content moderation.” That U.S. entity could be created in addition to a TikTok Global unit.
ByteDance is still working to reach an agreement with the U.S. government and even if they did they would have to then work with Chinese authorities to get sign off on the deal. The deal would need to comply with recent restrictions China placed on exports of data-processing technologies such as content-recommendation algorithms.