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TikTok And WeChat Receive Stays Of Execution

An eleventh-hour thumbs-up from President Donald Trump has potentially saved TikTok from shutting down in the US, while a court injunction has also granted messaging app WeChat a reprieve.

The President said he approved of a deal between Oracle and TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance, which will see Oracle take over the data of the short-form video app’s US users as a “trusted technology partner”; ByteDance will likely retain a stake, while Oracle and Walmart – the latter of which had been part of a failed bid by Microsoft to buy the app – will also make investments.

Though the new TikTok Global company would be headquartered in the US, it falls short of Trump’s goal for an entirely American-owned entity; nonetheless, Trump said the deal had his “blessing”, leading the Commerce Department to delay implementing the ban of TikTok in the US.

“The security will be one hundred per cent, they’ll be using separate clouds and a lot of very, very powerful security.

“Conceptually, I think it’s a great deal for America,” he said.

In a statement, TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide said TikTok would “maintain and expand” its operations in the US, where it has 100 million users.

“We are pleased that the proposal by TikTok, Oracle, and Walmart will resolve the security concerns of the US Administration and settle questions around TikTok’s future in the US,” she said.

Any TikTok deal would still need approval from Beijing; however, in another win for Chinese app developers, messaging app WeChat has won a delay on its own ban in court, with a federal judge agreeing with a group of WeChat users that the ban would hamper their free speech.

US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler issued an injunction blocking the ban of WeChat, citing “serious questions” around potential infringement of users’ First Amendment rights.

“Effectively banning WeChat – which serves as a virtual public square for the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American community in the United States and is (as a practical matter) their only means of communication – forecloses meaningful access to communication in their community and thereby operates as a prior restraint on their right to free speech that does not survive strict scrutiny.

“Certainly the government’s overarching national-security interest is significant. But on this record – while the government has established that China’s activities raise significant national security concerns – it has put in scant little evidence that its effective ban of WeChat for all U.S. users addresses those concerns,” she wrote.

The Trump administration issued two executive orders to ban TikTok and WeChat in August; TikTok has also filed suit to block a ban.

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