U.S. judge to hold November 4 hearing on Commerce Dept TikTok ban

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Illustration picture of Tiktok with U.S. flags

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge said on Tuesday he would hold a Nov. 4 hearing on whether to allow the U.S. government to bar transactions with TikTok, a move that the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app has warned would effectively ban its use in the United States.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued a preliminary injunction on Sept. 27 that barred the U.S. Commerce Department from ordering Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google app stores to remove TikTok for download by new users.

Nichols must now decide whether to block the other aspects of the Commerce Department order set to take effect on Nov. 12. Nichols’ new hearing is scheduled for one day after the presidential election.

Talks are ongoing to finalize a preliminary deal for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations. U.S. President Donald Trump said last month the deal had his “blessing.”

Key terms of the deal, including who will have majority ownership, are in dispute. TikTok owner ByteDance has also said any deal will need China’s approval, and Beijing has revised its list of technologies subject to export bans, in a way that gives it a say over any TikTok deal.

The Trump administration contends TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China’s government.

Any deal is subject to review by the U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). That panel could also decide to block the app’s use in the United States.

Separately the Justice Department appealed the Sept. 19 preliminary junction issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction blocked the U.S. Commerce Department order, which would also bar other U.S. transactions with Tencent Holding’s WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.

A schedule released by the court suggested no ruling on request is likely until late November at the earliest.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)

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