U.S. appeals courts dismiss government’s appeals of TikTok rulings


FILE PHOTO: TikTok app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

July 15, 2021

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Two U.S. appeals courts dismissed the Justice’s Department’s legal challenges to court rulings that barred a Trump-era effort to ban new downloads of Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok.

The Justice Department on Monday asked two appeals courts to dismiss its appeals after President Joe Biden in June withdrew a series of executive orders by then-President Donald Trump that sought to ban new downloads of WeChat, TikTok and other Chinese apps. Biden ordered a new review of the apps’ impact on U.S. users’ privacy.

The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday agreed to the government’s request.

The Commerce Department on June 22 formally withdrew a list of prohibited transactions with ByteDance-owned TikTok and Tencent-owned WeChat issued in September that sought to bar downloads of the apps.

The Justice Department has not yet decided whether to ask the 9th Circuit to dismiss its appeal of a ruling blocking the WeChat restrictions.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, the Commerce Department had also sought to ban other transactions that would have effectively prohibited WeChat’s use in the United States and later sought similar restrictions that would have barred TikTok’s use. Courts blocked all those restrictions from taking effect.

Biden’s executive order also revoked another Trump order signed in January that targeted eight other communications and financial technology software applications.

That Trump order directed officials to ban transactions with eight Chinese apps, including Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay. No bans have been issued to date.

A separate U.S. national security review of TikTok, launched in late 2019, remains active.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis)

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