- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Federal judges’ orders halting the Trump administration’s crackdown on TikTok are all that stand between the popular, Chinese-owned social media app and a Thursday deadline effectively banning it in the U.S.

As TikTok fights for survival in the courts, it says it has received “no clarity” from the Trump administration about whether it has accepted its proposals to alleviate national-security concerns about the app. The interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which is led by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, is reviewing the proposals.

President Trump in September gave his tentative blessing to a proposal by TikTok owner ByteDance meant to resolve the national security concerns by placing TikTok under the oversight of Oracle and Walmart, each of which would have a financial stake in the company.

Mr. Trump has cited concerns that the Chinese government could spy on TikTok users if the app remains under Chinese ownership.

TikTok said it has worked with CFIUS for a year without ascertaining much of a response to its proposals, so it decided to turn to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

“In the nearly two months since the president gave his preliminary approval to our proposal to satisfy those concerns, we have offered detailed solutions to finalize that agreement — but have received no substantive feedback on our extensive data privacy and security framework,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email. “Facing continual new requests and no clarity on whether our proposed solutions would be accepted, we requested the 30-day extension that is expressly permitted in the August 14 order. Today, with the November 12 CFIUS deadline imminent and without an extension in hand, we have no choice but to file a petition in court to defend our rights and those of our more than 1,500 employees in the U.S.”

The TikTok spokesperson said the company remains committed to working with the Trump administration but the legal challenge was necessary to ensure TikTok could discuss a path forward.

Multiple court orders have placed temporary pauses on different aspects of Mr. Trump’s restrictions on TikTok.

In September, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ordered a temporary block of the Trump administration’s decision that would stop TikTok’s distribution through app stores run by Apple and Google.

Judge Nichols, a Trump appointee in 2019 to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, heard arguments last week between the Department of Justice and lawyers for TikTok and ByteDance where he contemplated TikTok’s challenge of the Trump administration’s actions.

Late last month, U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone, who was appointed by President Obama in 2014, separately issued a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s restrictions on TikTok set to take effect on Thursday. Judge Beetlestone’s order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania came in response to a legal challenge from TikTok users.

On Tuesday, lawyers for TikTok alerted Judge Nichols’ court that they were turning to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to seek review of CFIUS’s actions and a divestment order from the government.

Rather than wait to see what determination Judge Nichols would make, the petition to the federal appeals court is aimed at providing another barrier to the Trump administration’s restrictions on TikTok while the company and its ownership look for a solution that will satisfy the U.S. government.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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