President Joe Biden is backing off from the firestorm initiated by Donald Trump's administration against TikTok. Bloomberg reports that the administration is seeking to "evaluate" security concerns raised around the short clip app, calling for a hold on Trump's demand that a U.S. company acquire the Chinese-owned business' U.S.-related divisions.
The administration has asked a federal judge in Washington to pause the litigation that will, if approved, lead to a ban on the app, which was Trump's original and at times obsessive plan. In a court filing made on Wednesday, Biden's team says it, "plans to conduct an evaluation of the underlying record justifying those prohibitions" and that "a review of the prohibitions at issue here may narrow the issues presented or eliminate the need for this court’s review entirely."
What happens now — With this temporary pause, TikTok owner ByteDance might now get the chance to defend its app's continued presence in the United States, and assuage any fears about how it handles user data. In the past, the company has encouraged engineers and experts to spot security issues in the app in an obvious attempt to win public trust.
Over the previous few years, national security officials have openly criticized TikTok as a potential surveillance tool that could, they assert, amasses data on American users for the Chinese government. Proof that such surveillance is actually happening, however, has been less easy to come by. At the moment, TikTok officials are in touch with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, in an effort to assure critics that the app is innocuous and poses no threat to American national security.
Lucky, lucky TikTok — This pause also affects the ongoing talks surrounding Trump's demand that ByteDance should sell a part of TikTok to Walmart, Oracle, or other American firms. That demand hasn't been realized, thanks in part to Trump effectively checking out of doing any actually presidential work after the November 2020 election. His ineptness and resultant loss is ByteDance's gain. Now to wait and see if having Biden in the White House bodes as well for other Trump targets like Huawei and ZTE.