In the heat of the recent US elections, it almost seemed that the current Trump administration was too busy to remember the deadline it set for TikTok to divest or shut down its operations in the US. After months of uncertainty, TikTok has finally gotten a reprieve as the US Commerce Department announced it won’t enforce the earlier order in light of a recent federal court ruling. The fight, however, isn’t over yet and TikTok’s fate in the US still hinges on what will happen in the country in the coming weeks.
Philadelphia District Judge Wendy Beetlestone ruled last month that the US government was overstepping its authority when it ordered a ban on TikTok, citing threats to the exchange of information. The Commerce Department appealed that decision Thursday night but, since it was pretty much too late to put its order into effect, decided to back down from its case against TikTok briefly.
It isn’t a complete victory, of course, and the threat of a ban still looms over the social network’s head, depending on which way the country’s political engine will turn. That said, there have been concerns from both sides of the political party fence about the risks of Chinese espionage in the US via companies like Huawei, ZTE, and TikTok owner ByteDance.
If anything, the Commerce Department’s decision to retreat pretty much puts ByteDance in limbo. One of the conditions demanded by the US government for TikTok’s continued operation in the country was to divest that business and put it in the hands of American companies. Negotiations, however, stalled but ByteDance says it’s still committed to securing Americans’ data, though it still argues that the government has no right to dictate a Chinese company’s business structure.
TikTok’s fate now lies in the hands of the next administration and Biden is expected to take a less harsh stance in dealing with China. In the meantime and until new policies have been put in place, it will be business as usual for TikTok in the US as in the rest of the world.