The Commerce Department said Thursday it wouldn’t enforce its order that would have effectively forced the Chinese-owned TikTok video sharing app to shut down, in the latest sign of trouble for the Trump administration’s efforts to turn it into a U.S. company. The Commerce Department’s action delayed implementation of an order, set to take effect on Thursday, that would have barred companies from providing internet-hosting or content-delivery services to TikTok—moves that would effectively make it inoperable in the U.S.
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. Many members of Congress in both parties, however, have sounded alarms about potential Chinese data-gathering and surveillance in the U.S.
In August, Trump signed an executive order to ban TikTok if it did not sell its US operations in 45 days. The move forced ByteDance to consider deals with several American companies before ultimately settling on a proposal to place TikTok under the oversight of the American companies Oracle and Walmart, each of which would also have a financial stake in the company. No deal has yet been finalized.
ByteDance had been given until Thursday to restructure ownership of the app in the US to meet national security concerns, but it filed a petition in a Washington court this week asking for a delay. The company said in a Tuesday statement that it had asked the government for a 30-day extension because of “continual new requests and no clarity on whether our proposed solutions would be accepted”, but it was not granted.
TikTok had no immediate comment on the latest development but on 30 October said it was “deeply moved by the outpouring of support from our creators, who have worked to protect their rights to expression, their careers, and to helping small businesses, particularly during the pandemic”.