The Biden administration asked two federal appeals courts on Monday to dismiss the Justice Department’s legal challenge to the court’s ruling, which banned the Trump era from banning new downloads of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok.
Last month, President Joe Biden withdrew a series of executive orders issued by former President Donald Trump aimed at banning new downloads of WeChat, Douyin and other Chinese apps, and ordered new censorship.
On June 22, the Ministry of Commerce officially withdrew the list of prohibited transactions issued in September with ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat aimed at prohibiting the download of these applications.
The Justice Department said on Monday that the government’s legal challenge is now meaningless. It asked the U.S. District of Columbia and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss its appeal.
In addition, the Justice Department stated in a document submitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that it has not yet decided how to proceed with the appeal of the lower court rulings to prevent the Trump administration from trying to impose restrictions on WeChat.
The government stated that it is negotiating with the lawyers of the WeChat user who filed the lawsuit to “discuss the appropriate next steps for the appeal.” The government plans to notify the court of its decision by July 26.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, the Department of Commerce also tried to ban other transactions that could effectively prohibit the use of WeChat in the United States, and later sought similar restrictions to prohibit the use of TikTok. The court prevented all these restrictions from taking effect.
The Biden order directs the Department of Commerce to monitor software applications such as TikTok that may affect U.S. national security, and make recommendations within 120 days to protect U.S. data acquired or accessed by companies controlled by foreign adversaries.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in an interview with Reuters on June 28 that the review of the Ministry of Commerce was “just beginning” and would include “evidence-based” analysis.
Raimundo said: “The whole point of the executive order is to take very powerful measures to protect American data from being collected and used by foreign opponents.”
Biden’s executive order also revoked another order that Trump signed in January against eight other communications and financial technology software applications.
Trump’s order instructed officials to ban transactions with eight Chinese apps, including Ant Group’s Alipay, Tencent’s QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay. No ban was issued.
The United States’ separate national security review of TikTok was launched at the end of 2019 and is still active.
© Thomson Reuters 2021