TikTok Gains Extension of Divestiture Deadline


(WSJ) Federal officials have granted TikTok and its Chinese parent ByteDance Ltd. a 15-day extension of a deadline for completing a divestiture deal, in another delay of the Trump administration’s efforts to turn the social-media app into an American company.


The deadline extension to Nov. 27 was granted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., a U.S. panel that monitors cross-border mergers and acquisitions, according to a filing by TikTok in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday


TikTok declined to comment. The video-sharing app has challenged the legality of a Trump administration order requiring its shutdown if it isn’t sold.


The U.S. has argued that it is trying to prevent data on American TikTok users from being shared with China’s authoritarian government, which TikTok says it would never allow.


The Trump administration’s efforts to force a sale or shutdown of the app has been increasingly bogged down in legal challenges by TikTok and its allies in recent days. The original deadline was Thursday, but it is likely that the legal debate will stretch on for weeks.


The Commerce Department said Thursday it wouldn’t be able to enforce its order effectively forcing TikTok to shut down pending the outcome of litigation. The Commerce order would have barred companies from providing internet-hosting or content-delivery services for the app, a prohibition that would hamstring its operations in the U.S.


In announcing its decision, the Commerce Department cited a preliminary injunction against the shutdown issued last month by U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia in a suit brought by three TikTok stars, comedian Douglas Marland, fashion guru Cosette Rinab and musician Alex Chambers.


The Justice Department appealed that order on Thursday.


TikTok also has filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, asking for the divestiture order to be invalidated. A schedule in that case shows that initial pleadings are set to be filed through much of December, if not beyond.


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 have sounded alarms about potential Chinese data-gathering and surveillance in the U.S.


The outcome has important implications for U.S.-Chinese relations, as well as the future shape of the global internet, as other countries wrestle with how to incorporate Chinese technology companies.


Source: Wall Street Journal by John D. McKinnon

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