U.S. appeals judge’s ruling that blocked U.S. ban on TikTok downloads

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government said in a court filing on Thursday it was appealing a judge’s ruling that prevented it from prohibiting new downloads of the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok.

The Justice Department said it appealed the order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

In late September, a U.S. judge temporarily blocked a Trump administration order that was set to bar Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google from offering new TikTok downloads.

China’s ByteDance, which owns TikTok, has been under pressure to sell the popular app. The White House contends that TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China’s government. Any deal will also still need to be reviewed by the U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Negotiations are under way for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations.

But key terms of the deal – including who will have majority ownership – are in dispute. ByteDance has also said any deal will need to be approved by China. Beijing has revised its list of technologies subject to export bans in a way that gives it a say over any TikTok deal.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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U.S. appeals judge’s ruling to block WeChat app store ban

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Friday said it was appealing a judge’s decision to block the government from barring Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Google from offering Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat for download in U.S. app stores.

The government said it was appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the Sept. 19 preliminary junction issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler. The injunction blocked the U.S. Commerce Department order, which would also bar other U.S. transactions with Tencent Holding’s <0700.HK> WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.

A U.S. spokesman for Tencent did not immediately comment.

The Justice Department said earlier that Beeler’s order was in error and “permits the continued, unfettered use of WeChat, a mobile application that the Executive Branch has determined constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Lawyers for the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance, the group behind the legal challenge to the WeChat ban, earlier questioned the urgency of the government’s request for Beeler to stay her ruling.

Beeler said WeChat users who filed a lawsuit “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim.” The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech.

WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States, analytics firms Apptopia said in early August. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.

WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.

A U.S. judge in Washington on Sunday issued a