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WeChat and TikTok Still Available in US; Future Uncertain

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Sep 21, 2020, 11:34 AM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

Popular Chinese-owned apps WeChat and TikTok narrowly avoided a US government ban on new downloads Sunday night. On Friday, President Trump directed the US Department of Commerce to issue a ban on US companies (including Apple and Google) facilitating downloads of — or updates to — the WeChat and TikTok apps specifically, citing national security concerns. It would have also banned financial transactions using WeChat in the US, and gone into effect on Sunday, Sept. 20th. A judge issued a last-minute preliminary injunction temporarily preventing the ban from going into effect against WeChat, citing free-speech issue raised by WeChat users who sued to stop the ban. Separately, the Trump administration signaled that it might approve a proposed deal whereby Oracle and Walmart would take a 20% stake in a new "TikTok Global" company. TikTok would also move data from US users to a new cloud infrastructure provided by Oracle. Microsoft also offered to take over TikTok's US operations, but Current TikTok owner ByteDance is said to have focused on doing a deal with companies favored by the Trump administration. Oracle's Larry Ellison is a vocal supporter and fundraiser for Trump. Under the proposed deal, Chinese ByteDance would initially retain a controlling 80% stake in TikTok Global, but the new company would be required to have an IPO on a US stock exchange, with American ownership expected to "grow over time." To allow time for the proposed deal to reach a more firm agreement, the Dept. of Commerce delayed its ban on TikTok downloads by one week, to September 27th.

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