White House suspends action against TikTok

Biden administration puts halt on Trump-era legal action

Smartphone with TikTok opening screen on it in front of an American flag

The Biden administration froze another Trump-era legal battle this week when it suspended government legal action against social media video network TikTok.

A federal Washington, D.C. court had been due to hear a government appeal in its case against TikTok. The appeal was the latest step in a dispute that began with a Trump executive order banning transactions with TikTok's owner ByteDance, forcing TikTok's sale to a group owned primarily by US companies.

The Commerce Department had backed this order with a plan to prohibit US users from downloading TikTok and deny hosting services to the company.

TikTok appealed these prohibitions. On September 27, the court granted an injunction against the app store ban. In December, Judge Carl Nichols followed this up with an injunction that stopped the government from cutting off cloud services to the company. The government had appealed against this injunction.

The Trump administration appealed the injunction and filed to expedite the case, but the Biden administration asked a D.C. court to delay the appeal against the injunction on February 10 to give it time to review the situation.

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"As the Biden Administration has taken office, the Department of Commerce has begun a review of certain recently issued agency actions, including the Secretary’s prohibitions regarding the TikTok mobile application at issue in this appeal. In relation to those prohibitions, the Department plans to conduct an evaluation of the underlying record justifying those prohibitions," the White House filing said.

"The government will then be better positioned to determine whether the national security threat described in the President’s August 6, 2020 Executive Order, and the regulatory purpose of protecting the security of Americans and their data, continue to warrant the identified prohibitions," it continued.

This is the second governmental U-turn the Biden administration has made this week on technology-related lawsuits initiated by the Trump government. On Monday, the Department of Justice dropped a lawsuit against California's plan to reinstate net neutrality rules.

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