U.S. court agrees to expedite government TikTok app store ban appeal

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(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday agreed to fast-track a Justice Department appeal of a ruling blocking the government from banning new TikTok downloads from U.S. app stores.

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 the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app for download by new users.

A U.S. appeals court in Washington said all briefs are due by Nov. 12 with oral arguments to follow. The government’s opening brief is due on Friday.

China’s ByteDance, which owns TikTok, has been under pressure to sell the popular app. The White House contends that 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 will also still need to be reviewed by the U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), but people briefed on the matter do not expect any final agreement before the election.

Negotiations are underway for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations.

Key terms of the deal – including who will have majority ownership – are in dispute. ByteDance has also said any deal will need to be approved by China.

Nichols plans to hold a Nov. 4 hearing on whether to allow the U.S. government to bar transactions with TikTok that it has warned would effectively ban the app’s use in the United States. Those restrictions are set to take effect on Nov. 12.

A federal judge in San Francisco blocked similar restrictions from taking effect that would bar the use of Tencent Holding’s WeChat. A hearing is set for Thursday on the government’s request to immediately implement the ban on the Chinese messaging app.

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