TikTok and WeChat will be able to continue downloading on U.S. app sites for the time being, after a preliminary agreement was reached on China’s short video sharing network and a judge blocking Donald Trump’s government’s order against the “Chinese WhatsApp” on Sunday.
Judge Laurel Beeler, of a Northern District of California court, issued a preliminary order to block the ban on WeChat downloads that was to take effect at 11.59 local time on Sunday (03.59 GMT on Monday).
WeChat and TikTok Still Available in US; Future Uncertain: 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… https://t.co/0tVesPmvS1
— Phone Scoop (@phonescoop) September 21, 2020
The judge explained in her brief that
“certainly the general interest of government national security is significant, but (…) while the Government has established that China’s activities pose significant national security concerns, it has given little evidence that the effective WeChat ban on all users in the U.S. addresses these concerns.”
“And as the plaintiffs point out,” he added, “there are obvious alternatives to a complete ban, such as banning WeChat from government devices, as Australia has done, or taking other measures to address data security.”
VICTORY FOR WECHAT USERS IN THE US
This decision is a victory for WeChat’s owner company, Chinese technology company Tencent Holdings, and the WeChat User Alliance in the U.S., an organization that claims it is not linked to the company that filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration in August when it declared that app “a threat to national security.”
The judge reasoned that in WeChat users in the U.S. they have expressed in their lawsuit “serious issues” about the threat that the government’s order may pose to their rights recognized in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedoms of expression, worship, press, and assembly.
And he argued that this social network is useful for members of the Chinese-American community or Chinese speakers in the American country.
“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is indeed the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China prohibits other applications, but also because Chinese speakers with little English professed have no choice but WeChat,” she recalled.
This court decision comes after saturday the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it was going to delay a week, until September 27, the implementation of similar measures against TikTok, which were originally going to take effect today, after Trump gave his “blessing” to a preliminary agreement so that he can operate in the country , in partnership with the Americans Oracle and Walmart.
U.S. CONCERNED ABOUT ITS NATIONAL SECURITY
On Friday, the U.S. government reported that it would block TikTok and WeChat downloads on U.S. app purchase sites starting on Sunday and that it would vetate its full use as of November 12, citing national security concerns.
In the case of WeChat I was also going to prohibit from this Sunday any transfer of funds or payments in the U.S. through this application, which has also been paralyzed by the order of the California judge.
China warned Friday that it will act against foreign companies and individuals that “endanger” their sovereignty and security, and issued new rules related to its list of “unreliable entities“, announced more than 15 months ago and not yet published, which could sanction U.S. firms and individuals in response to Trump Administration measures.
However, in statements to the press Saturday, the U.S. representative revealed that he had given “his blessing” to an agreement with TikTok, where the Chinese social network would partner with U.S. companies Oracle and Walmart to operate in the US country, although he noted that negotiations continued.
“I’ve given my blessing to the agreement, if they do, it would be great and if they didn’t, it would be fine too, but it’s a great deal for America,” said the president, who soon after added that he approves the agreement “as a result.”
TIKTOK, PARTNER AT ORACLE AND WALMART IN THE US
Trump stressed that Oracle and Walmart would partner with TikTok, “security would be 100%, they will be using separate clouds and very powerful security, and will be making a $5 billion contribution in education.”
“We’ll see if it happens or not, but conceptually I think it’s a big deal for America,” opined the president, who advanced that if a pact were reached, 25,000 jobs will be created, mostly in Texas and that it will be a new company, although it will keep TikTok’s name.
However, Chinese technology company Bytedance, the parent of the TikTok app, later said it is unaware of the $5 billion education fund that, according to US President, is not going to be able to do so. Would include the agreement with Oracle and Walmart; and that it was the “first time” I listened to that.
In a joint statement, Walmart and Oracle detailed that the preliminary agreement with TikTok will result in the creation of a new company called TikTok Global, in which the two U.S. companies will have a 20 percent stake.
TikTok Global will provide TikTok services to users in the U.S. and “most users in the rest of the world,” while Oracle will become TikTok’s cloud provider, the note underlined.
The agreement also stipulates that TikTok Global “will be the majority property of U.S. investors, including Oracle and Walmart,” which will be an independent U.S. company, based in the U.S. country and with four Americans among the five board members.
Trump has repeatedly assured that TikTok, one of the most growing social media in recent years, poses a “threat” to U.S. national security and seeks to force its sale to a U.S. company.