The Trump administration continues its attempt to clear away the legal hurdles for it to impose tough trading restrictions on Chinese-owned TikTok.
Earlier this month US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington had granted a preliminary injunction that blocked the US Commerce Department from imposing on ByteDance the ability to host data within the United States for TikTok. The US restrictions would have also prevented other technical transactions that would have effectively barred TikTok’s use in the United States.
ByteDance earlier in November had filed a challenge to the order in a US appeals court.
That challenge resulted in US judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania blocking the same restrictions that were due to take effect on 12 November.
It should be noted that Judge Nichols on 27 September had separately blocked the Commerce Department from banning Apple and Alphabet’s Google app stores from offering the app for downloads by new users.
But now Reuters has reported that the US government has appealed the injunction from Judge Nichols that stopped the Commerce Dept from imposing restrictions on TikTok.
The Justice Department said it was appealing Judge Nichols’ order to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
The US appeal against the Judge Beetlestone ruling is set to heard separately in February.
Officials briefed on the matter told Reuters it is increasingly unlikely the US government would resolve the fate of TikTok before President Trump leaves office on 20 January.
There is still an outside chance a deal could be struck in January, they said.
But the fact that the Trump administration has logged an appeal should come as no surprise.
The Commerce Department has previously said it would “vigorously defend” Trump’s August executive order that authorised the restrictions.
It also said the order “is fully consistent with law and promotes legitimate national security interests. The government will continue to comply with the injunctions.”
The Trump administration has previously declined to grant ByteDance a new extension of Trump’s August order requiring it to divest TikTok’s US assets, but talks will continue.
The Trump order against TikTok forced ByteDance to consider offers from several companies, before settling on an arrangement that would shift its US operations into a new company called TikTok Global, in which US firms Oracle and Walmart would have a stake.
The Trump executive order against TikTok (and WeChat owner Tencent) was because the US believes they pose a national security risk because the app collects data on users, which “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
ByteDance bought Shanghai-based Musical.ly in 2017 and used it as the basis for TikTok, which became the first Chinese social media app to become broadly popular in the US.